Emergency Care for New Mothers and Pregnant Women in HUSKY A

Back • Publication Date: February 17th, 2009

Authors: Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D., Karen M. Sautter, M.P.H., and Amanda Learned, B.A

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Use of emergency care in Connecticut and nationwide is on the rise and is disproportionately high among Medicaid enrollees. HUSKY A (Medicaid managed care) provides care for a significant number of women of reproductive age, including pregnant women and new mothers. While improving access to primary care is one of the main goals of the HUSKY program, little is known about how women access primary care and other services. Disparities in primary care may result in higher utilization of acute care services such as emergency department visits. Improving access to primary care for women may reduce emergency department visitation for new mothers in HUSKY A.

This study describes emergency care utilization during pregnancy and the postpartum period for mothers who gave birth while enrolled in HUSKY A. This study found that:

  • One of every two new mothers who was continuously enrolled in HUSKY A after giving birth in 2005 had emergency care, a rate similar to the rate for all women in HUSKY A that year.
  • In contrast, just one-third of pregnant women had emergency care during the six months prior to delivery; furthermore, utilization of emergency care for ambulatory-care sensitive conditions was less than one-third the rate for new mothers.
  • Injury and symptoms of ill-defined conditions were the leading diagnoses among new mothers, whereas pregnancy-related conditions were the predominant diagnosis for emergency care sought by pregnant women.