Device costs mar hospitals' ability to offer long-term contraception post-delivery

While physicians say long-term reversible birth control can lead to better health outcomes for new mothers, hospitals often face financial barriers when rolling out these programs, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Here are four things to know:

1. Long-term birth control, such as an intrauterine device or an arm implant, can prevent pregnancy for three to 10 years. Five IUDs are on the market in the U.S. that can be placed within 10 minutes post delivery. One implant, Nexplanon, can be implanted before a woman leaves the hospital.

2. Providers are reimbursed for placing the long-acting contraception by Medicaid. However, hospitals still need to purchase the devices. Upfront costs for the implants can range from $500 to $1,000 each, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation cited by The Dallas Morning News.

3. Despite better health outcomes for mothers, Divya Patel, PhD, an assistant professor at UT Health Science Center at Tyler (Texas), found in early 2017, only eight of the 250 birthing hospitals in Texas have or were taking steps to create programs for implanting long-lasting birth control in new mothers.

4. "The reimbursement rates don't always keep pace with fluctuating device costs," Dr. Patel said. "There seems to be a lot of instability in the amount [providers] get reimbursed. Hospitals who had close relationships with their Medicaid representatives were more successful at getting reimbursed."

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