FRIDAY, March 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Pregnancy and delivery are associated with an increased risk for catastrophic health expenditures in the delivery year, according to a study published online March 10 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Jessica A. Peterson, M.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues examined trends and risk factors for catastrophic health expenditures in the year of delivery among birth parents. The analysis included 4,056 birth parents and 7,996 reproductive-aged females without pregnancy each year (2008 to 2016).

The researchers found that birth parents had a higher risk for catastrophic health expenditures (excluding premiums: odds ratio [OR], 1.95; including premiums: OR, 1.53). The highest risk for catastrophic health expenditures was seen among birth parents living on low incomes (≤138 versus >400 percent of the federal poverty level; relative risk [RR], 26.9 when excluding premiums; including premiums: RR, 5.1). Public insurance among low-income birth parents was associated with lower risks for catastrophic health expenditures than private insurance (excluding premiums: RR, 0.28; including premiums: RR, 0.16). The Affordable Care Act did not significantly change the risk for catastrophic spending for birth parents.

“Our study demonstrates that this health care utilization can be a financial burden for expectant parents,” Peterson said in a statement. “This burden primarily affects those at lower incomes, especially if they have private insurance.”

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