This study calculates the financial margins for delivery of routine antenatal care as reimbursed by Medicaid. Prenatal care cost varies with overhead, provider type, and number of office visits. Antenatal care is only one component of the global obstetric bundle, which also includes intrapartum and postpartum care.
Revenue was based on 2015 Medicaid reimbursement for the pregnancy global package (CPT 59400). All fifty states were represented. Provider time cost was estimated using mean wages for obstetricians and midwives, or using national mean wage data when state-specific data was unavailable. Staff time for provision of low risk prenatal care was determined prospectively from a study of 133 low risk patients. Sensitivity analysis was performed by varying overhead as a percentage of total revenue. Routine prenatal labs, ultrasounds, intrapartum care, and postpartum care were not included in our analysis.
Patients received an average of 215 minutes of direct provider time per pregnancy. At the 50th percentile for physician payment and assuming overhead is 40% of revenue, practice margins varied by state from -$1,061 to +$785, with a median of -$161. This does not include the cost of intrapartum or postpartum care. The median margin for antenatal care was negative if overhead exceeded 18% of revenue.
In a majority of states, reimbursement for the global obstetric package reimbursed by Medicaid is less than the actual cost of prenatal care alone. Improving reimbursement or decreasing costs is necessary to make maternity care cost-effective for obstetrics practices.