SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 11, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The reality of preterm birth is heart-wrenching and costly. The statistics are sobering. 1 in 10 babies is born preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation) each year in the United States. Preterm birth is the number one killer of newborns in the United States. Those babies who survive are at greater risk for lifelong health complications. The average medical cost of preterm babies is twelve times greater than a healthy baby. Childbirth and newborn care are a big part of employers' health insurance costs representing the most expensive conditions billed to commercial insurers for hospital care1 and accounting for 7 of the top 10 individual hospital procedures billed2. How will the next preterm baby impact business? How can businesses prepare for this impact and improve the health of their employees?
"Premature birth costs businesses more than $12 billion annually in excess health care costs," said Micah Weinberg, Ph.D. President and Senior Policy Advisor at The Bay Area Council Economic Institute. "Unfortunately, preterm birth happens unexpectedly making it challenging for businesses to anticipate the expense. When we learned about the costs of this health crisis, we knew businesses needed a tool to estimate their potential expense accurately. We partnered with March of Dimes -- the country's leading non-profit for maternal and infant health, to create the first-of-its-kind online business tool: Prematurity Cost to Business Estimator. Now, for the first time, businesses can quickly and easily estimate their preterm birth expenses and receive recommendations to improve the health and birth outcomes of their employees."
The estimator is designed to increase awareness about the impact of prematurity and improve the health of employees and their babies through the use of existing, comprehensive health information and recommendations provided by March of Dimes. "By investing in the prevention of preterm birth, employers can help families and rein in their health care costs at the same time," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of March of Dimes. "At the March of Dimes, we don't believe it's appropriate to single out individual employees' health care costs. However, the fact that premature birth is costing companies millions of dollars is something we cannot afford to ignore. The March of Dimes stands ready to work with all interested companies in developing policies that can help to reduce employees' risk of preterm birth."
The March of Dimes recommends steps that businesses can take to support maternal and newborn health, including the implementation of "Healthy Babies, Healthy Business®" – the March of Dimes free web-based pregnancy wellness program." More information is available at marchofdimes.org/hbhb.
Currently in beta testing, this interactive web-based tool was "officially released" at a special luncheon at The Bay Area Council Economic Institute on December 10. "We believe the estimator will be extremely helpful for companies with 500 employees or more. This tool allows companies to estimate the real impact of preterm birth on their business," said Tré McCalister Ed.D, Co-Chair of the National March of Dimes Prematurity Cost to Business Steering Committee and Principal, Total Health Management, Mercer.
According to March of Dimes, about half of premature births happen from unknown causes. Even if a woman has done everything right during her pregnancy, she can go into premature labor and give birth early. March of Dimes recommends steps women can take to reduce preterm birth risk, such as to quit smoking, get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and birth spacing. The complete list, including signs of preterm labor, is available here http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/reduce-your-risk-of-preterm-labor-and-birth.aspx
To try the Prematurity Cost to Business Estimator, the new free March of Dimes business tool, go to b2b.marchofdimes.org. Details about the methodology can be found can be found in the March of Dimes California newsroom http://www.marchofdimes.org/california/news_13748.html. For national Premature Birth Report Card information visit here: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7653351-march-of-dimes-premature-birth-report/
1 Wier, L.M. (Thomson Reuters) and Andrews, R.M. (AHRQ). The National Hospital Bill: The Most Expensive Conditions by Payer, 2008. HCUP Statistical Brief #107. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb107.pdf
2 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2009 Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Accessed at http://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/HCUPnet.jsp.
About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Each year nearly 4,000,000 babies are born in the United States and March of Dimes touches each one of them through research, education, community programs, support, and advocacy. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org. For resources in Spanish, visit nacersano.org. Find March of Dimes on Facebook and follow on Twitter. A wealth of educational video resources is available on the March of Dimes YouTube channel.
About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives.
SOURCE March of Dimes