March of Dimes, UnitedHealth Group Launch Group Prenatal Care Program to Help Improve Health Outcomes for Mothers and Babies, and Reduce Health Care Costs

  • UnitedHealth Group contributes $700,000 to help launch and
    evaluate new group prenatal care program for pregnant women
  • New program aims to reduce nation’s preterm birth rate to 5.5
    percent by 2030 from the 2015 rate of 9.6 percent

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March
of Dimes
and UnitedHealth
Group
(NYSE: UNH) are launching a new group prenatal care program
designed to help improve mothers’ and babies’ health during pregnancy,
birth and infancy.

March of Dimes supportive pregnancy care enables expectant mothers to
access prenatal care on a monthly basis in a supportive group setting
with women who are of similar gestational ages. During each visit,
expectant mothers will have more time with their care providers than
they would during their standard individual prenatal checkups, and
benefit from prenatal care education and vital social and emotional
support from other mothers. This environment can empower women to take
control of their pregnancy care and fosters relationships that can last
throughout their pregnancies and beyond.

Funded by $700,000 from UnitedHealth Group, March of Dimes and
UnitedHealth Group will collaborate to develop the program’s content and
curriculum, and make it available to participating care providers. The
curriculum will adhere to the prenatal care standards of the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

March of Dimes will operate the program in Tennessee beginning
fourth-quarter 2016. The program will include web-based tools and a
social media platform to enable mothers to connect and socialize with
each other online outside the group sessions and access helpful
information on healthy pregnancies. The program will be open to any
expecting mother interested in participating, regardless of insurance
coverage.

March of Dimes and UnitedHealth Group will evaluate the program’s
performance over the coming months to build a case study with a goal to
expand the model to more care providers and health systems across the
country.

“Preterm birth takes a devastating toll on the health of families in the
United States and costs the health care system billions,” said March of
Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “And for the first time in eight
years, the national preterm birth rate has increased rather than
decreased. Preterm birth continues to be the No. 1 killer of babies. We
must redouble our efforts to prevent the serious lifelong health
consequences that many babies suffer from being born too soon. Our
enhanced group prenatal care program could help change this dynamic, one
mother and child at a time. We are pleased to work with UnitedHealth
Group to accelerate the adoption of group prenatal care that can make a
positive difference in so many lives.”

Dr. Deneen Vojta, a pediatrician and executive vice president at
UnitedHealth Group’s Enterprise Research and Development, said: “group
prenatal care is part of the future of care for expecting mothers and
their babies because it’s about creating emotional and social support,
motivation and education to have a healthy birth and baby. We are
grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with March of Dimes to put
mothers and babies on the path to better health and reduce health care
costs.”

The Toll of Preterm Births in the United States

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly 10
percent of all births in the United States are preterm, meaning these
babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. That represents one of the
highest prematurity rates of any developed country in the world. The
March of Dimes 2015 Premature Birth Report Card shows serious
disparities continue to exist among communities and among racial and
ethnic groups in the United States, with African-American infants more
than twice as likely to be born preterm as white infants.

The economic costs of preterm births reached $26.2 billion in 2006 – the
most recent data available from the Institute of Medicine – accounting
for more than one-third of all U.S. health care spending for infants,
according to the Institute of Medicine. A premature birth costs
employers about 10 times more than a healthy, full-term birth in the
first year of life ($55,393 vs. $5,085), according to a 2014 analysis by
Truven Health Analytics commissioned by the March of Dimes.

Babies who survive an early birth often have lifelong health issues such
as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual
disabilities. Even infants born just a few weeks early have a greater
risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), feeding difficulties,
temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain
development.

Group prenatal care has gained momentum in recent years and has shown
promising evidence that it can lead to healthier pregnancies and births,
and lay the foundation for better lifelong health. In addition to
providing substantially more contact with health care providers,
prenatal care delivered in a group setting can motivate pregnant women
to be more actively engaged in their health care, offer support
services, and meet the needs of pregnant women and their families more
effectively.

Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that a group
setting for prenatal care was associated with fewer preterm births,
reduced incidence of low-birth-weight infants, and shorter neonatal
intensive care unit (NICU) stays after birth. States and the federal
government bear a substantial share of the costs of preterm birth
through the Medicaid program, which covers roughly half of all births.
The potential net savings to the Medicaid program over a five-year
period would equal roughly $12 billion if half the pregnant women
enrolled in Medicaid were to receive care through a group model,
according to research from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform &
Modernization.

Successfully scaling this program is expected to improve population
health outcomes, reduce disparities and decrease systemwide costs. March
of Dimes’ goal for the program is to reduce the nation’s preterm birth
rate to 5.5 percent by 2030 from the 2015 preliminary NCHS rate of 9.6
percent.

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy
and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited
from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.
For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org
and nacersano.org.
If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org
community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and
local perinatal statistics, visit persistats.org.
You can also find us on Facebook
or follow us on Twitter.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being
company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to
make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group
offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct
platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and
benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and
technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit
UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com
or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

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Contacts

March of Dimes
Todd Dezen, 914-997-4608
tdezen@marchofdimes.org
or
UnitedHealth
Group
Brenda Pérez, 718-548-4370
brenda_perez@uhg.com