Report: Insurers should cover doula care to strengthen mother-child health

Women today are choosing alternatives to giving birth in hospitals, including the increasingly popular option of choosing a doula to help with their care. For this reason, according to an issue brief from the organization Child Birth Connection, Medicaid and private insurance coverage of doula services could strengthen maternal and infant health.

According to the brief, doula care has the potential to generate savings by lowering ceasarean births, reducing the use of epidurals, and reducing preventable complications and chronic conditions. Additionally, the report says that doula care provides non-clinical emotional, physical and informational support before, during and after birth, and is a proven key strategy to improve maternal and infant health.

Therefore, the report suggests establishing a clear path for reimbursement for doula services, including mandates from state legislatures that private insurance cover doulas. It also calls for innovative programs to assist low-income women, as new reimbursement policies would provide them much-needed financial stability and would greatly increase the number of women who could be served by this care option.

"To deliver the proven benefits of doula care to women and their babies, doula services must be widely available and accessible, which in turn requires the establishment of clear, system-wide pathways to reimbursement," the report says.

Research has shown that in-hospital births added costs without contributing much benefit, but FierceHealthcare recently reported that the mortality rate for babies whose mothers intentionally gave birth outside of hospitals was more than double the rate of planned in-hospital birth.

The current system of maternity care in the United States is failing to meet the needs of women and families, the Child Birth Connection report concludes, adding that "doula support increases the likelihood of safer, healthier and more satisfying births and reduces health disparities."

To learn more:
- here is the report