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Women and Dependent Health

Why Employers Care

In 2011, 71% of women who had a child below 18 years of age participated in the labor force.1 Employer-sponsored insurance covers 58% of women between the ages of 18 and 64.2 Due to frequency and cost, pregnancy is the largest single health claim for many employers. Increasing rates of preterm birth, pregnancy complications, and Caesarean delivery are making employers aware of the need to focus on pregnancy and maternity-related health and health care costs.

According to recent employer surveys, children and adolescent dependents (through age 25) account for approximately one-third of large employers' beneficiaries and are responsible for 20%-25% of a large employer's health care cost.3,4 For instance, 12% of babies are born prematurely in the U.S.5 The earlier an infant is born, the greater his or her risk of morbidity and mortality. Additionally, the costs of preterm births are staggering: about 10 times higher for a preterm baby than a full-term baby.6

What Can Employers Do?

Employers should take action in order to ensure beneficiaries are as healthy as possible before, during, and after pregnancy. Health improvement will increase the likelihood of employees returning to full productivity following childbirth, and may reduce the excess medical costs associated with prenatal, postpartum, and neonatal complications. Also, the Business Group released Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policies: An Employer's Toolkit, which covers the essential information employers need to understand the components of breastfeeding programs, getting started and measuring success.

Relevant Tools and Resources Include:

References (show references)

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women in the Labor Force: A Databook. Report 1040. February 2013. Accessed April 1, 2013.

2 The Kaiser Family Foundation. Women's Health Insurance Coverage Fact Sheet. October 2012. Accessed April 1, 2013.

3 Lockwood N. The aging workforce: the reality of the impact of older workers and eldercare in the workplace. HR Magazine; 2003.

4 Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce; 2008.

5 Blencowe H et al. National, regional, and worldwide estimates of preterm birth rates in the year 2010 with time trends since 1990 for selected countries: a systematic analysis and implications. Lancet 2012; 379: 2162-72. Accessed September 14, 2012.

6 McLaurin KK et al. Persistence of Morbidity and Cost Differences Between Late-Preterm and Term Infants During the First Year of Life. Neoreviews. 2009; 123(2):653-659. Accessed September 14, 2012.

Page last updated: April 15, 2014

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