Pediatrics October 2017, VOLUME 140 / ISSUE 4
Scott D. Grosse, Norman J. Waitzman, Ninee Yang, Karon Abe, Wanda D. Barfield
- A preterm birth (< 37 weeks) occures in 1 of 11 of all US births
- Cost to employeer of preterm infant in the first year is $47,100 more than non-preterm
- These costs do not include maternal costs before nor after the birth
- These costs are an undersestimate as premies with Respiratory Distress Syndrome were not included (billing codes did not allow for determination of premies)
Premies have more major Birth Defects
|Preterm||6.5 %||$ 227,000|
|Normal||2.3 %||$ 64,000|
|Ratio||2.8 X||3.5 X|
BACKGROUND: Care for infants born preterm or with major birth defects is costly. Specific estimates of financial burden for different payers are lacking, in part because use of administrative data to identify preterm infants and costs is challenging.
METHODS: We used private health insurance claims data and billing codes to identify live births during 2013 and calculated first-year expenditures for employer-sponsored health plans for infants born preterm, both overall and stratified by major birth defects.
RESULTS: We conservatively estimated that 7.7% of insured infants born preterm accounted for 37% of $2.0 billion spent by participating plans on the care of infants born during 2013. With a mean difference in plan expenditures of ∼$47 100 per infant, preterm births cost the included plans an extra $600 million during the first year of life. Extrapolating to the national level, we projected aggregate employer-sponsored plan expenditures of $6 billion for infants born preterm during 2013. Infants with major birth defects accounted for 5.8% of preterm births but 24.5% of expenditures during infancy. By using an alternative algorithm to identify preterm infants, it was revealed that incremental expenditures were higher: $78 000 per preterm infant and $14 billion nationally.
CONCLUSION Preterm births (especially in conjunction with major birth defects) represent a substantial burden on payers, and efforts to mitigate this burden are needed. In addition, researchers need to conduct studies using linked vital records, birth defects surveillance, and administrative data to accurately and longitudinally assess per-infant costs attributable to preterm birth and the interaction of preterm birth with major birth defects.
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