Contextualizing Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion procedures
Young Y-Y, Thompson T-A, Cohen D, Blanchard K. Contextualizing Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion procedures. Contraception. March 2020. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2020.03.004
Objective: Low Medicaid reimbursement rates have been cited as a key threat to abortion clinic sustainability in the United States. This study examines differences between Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements for abortion and miscarriage management procedures under a fee-for-service (FFS) model.
Study design: Using 2017 Medicaid and Medicare Physician fee schedules, we extracted reimbursement data for the two most commonly-billed abortion procedures and two miscarriage management procedures for 45 states and the District of Columbia (DC). We compared Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates for each procedure by state.
Results: Medicaid reimbursement rates for both procedures varied widely across the states. Medicaid rates for second-trimester abortion procedures had the widest range; $79–$626. Median Medicaid reimbursement rates were lower than median Medicare rates for first- and second-trimester abortion procedures. Median reimbursement rates for first-trimester induced abortion were lower than median reimbursement rates for miscarriage management for both Medicaid and Medicare.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion are low; the median patient cost for a first- and second-trimester abortion have been reported as $490 and $750, respectively. Median Medicaid reimbursement rates for a first- and second-trimester abortion covers approximately 37% and 41% of patient costs for a first- and second-trimester abortion. Further, while induced abortion procedures are similar to miscarriage management procedures, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates are lower for first- and second-trimester abortion procedures.
Implication statement: Ensuring reimbursement rates are closely aligned with procedural costs bolsters provider willingness to accept Medicaid. Data that highlights the potential impact of fee-for-service reimbursement rates on healthcare provision and ultimately patient access can help inform healthcare policies. This is especially important as more states consider expanding Medicaid coverage of abortion.