March 2020

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. 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.

Tagged with Abortion, United States