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Higher Healthcare Costs and Usage in Pregnant Women with Congenital Heart Disease

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In a significant retrospective cohort study, researchers have analyzed the healthcare utilization and financial implications for pregnant women diagnosed with congenital heart disease (CHD), revealing critical data that underline the challenges and additional costs faced by this demographic. The study, which spans seven years from 2010 to 2016 and uses the extensive Merative MarketScan commercial insurance database, specifically contrasts healthcare patterns between women with CHD and their healthy counterparts.

Study Design and Cohort Description

This comprehensive study enrolled participants with CHD and matched controls without CHD, ensuring comparability by age, sex, and insurance enrollment year. Pregnancies within these groups were meticulously tracked to assess various healthcare service uses and associated costs. The analysis spanned over two years, from September 2022 to March 2024, focusing on both maternal and neonatal outcomes and the economic impact on the healthcare system.

Findings on Healthcare Utilization and Costs

The findings reveal that pregnancies in women with CHD, including those classified with severe and non-severe conditions, incur significantly higher healthcare costs and utilization compared to those without CHD. Specifically, the study detailed the standardized mean differences in service use ranging from outpatient visits to emergency department usage and inpatient stays, highlighting a broad spectrum of increased healthcare demands.

The financial analysis further demonstrated the disparity, with adjusted cost ratios showing a substantial increase in both total and out-of-pocket expenses for women with CHD during pregnancy. Average costs per pregnancy were notably higher for the CHD group compared to the non-CHD group, with the most severe cases attracting the highest expenses.

Practical Inferences for Stakeholders

  • Healthcare providers should prepare for higher resource allocation when treating pregnant women with CHD.
  • Payers and policymakers must consider these financial burdens in healthcare planning and insurance design.
  • Cardio-obstetric teams need tailored strategies to manage both the health and financial aspects of care for this high-risk group.

This research provides pivotal insights, guiding not just clinical practices but also aiding in the strategic planning and resource allocation needed to support pregnant women with CHD effectively. These findings serve as a foundation for advocating for comprehensive healthcare policies and practices tailored to the needs of this vulnerable population.

Original Article: JAMA Netw Open. 2024 May 1;7(5):e2410763. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.10763

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