Medicaid Cost and Reimbursement for Low-Risk Prenatal Care in the United States

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2021 Sep;66(5):589-596. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.13271. Epub 2021 Oct 1.


Introduction: We calculate the financial margins for delivery of routine antenatal care as reimbursed by Medicaid. Prenatal care cost varies with overhead, health care provider type, and number of office visits. Antenatal care is only one component of the global maternity bundle, which also includes intrapartum and postpartum care.

Methods: Time for provision of low-risk antenatal care was determined prospectively from a study of 133 low-risk pregnant patients. Health care provider time cost was estimated using mean wages for obstetricians and midwives. Margins were estimated by subtracting cost of provider services and overhead for the antenatal component of maternity care from total Medicaid reimbursement for the pregnancy global package (CPT 59400) using 2015 dollars. The maternity bundle elements of routine prenatal laboratory tests, ultrasounds, intrapartum care, and postpartum care were not included in our analysis of cost components.

Results: Patients received an average of 215 minutes of direct provider time per pregnancy. At the 50th percentile for physician payment and assuming overhead is 53.4% of revenue, practice margins varied by state from -$1067 to +$675, with a median of -$357. Median margins for midwifery care were +$15, with a range of -$579 to +$885. Margins were negative if overhead costs exceeded 33% of revenue for physician care and 55% of revenue for midwifery care.

Discussion: In many states, Medicaid reimbursement for the global maternity package is less than the actual cost of antenatal care alone. Improving reimbursement or decreasing costs is necessary to make maternity care more cost-effective.

Keywords: Medicaid; cost; prenatal; reimbursement.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Medicaid*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • United States