Providing continuous health insurance coverage during the perinatal period may increase access to and utilization of labor neuraxial analgesia. This study tested the hypothesis that implementation of the 2010 Dependent Coverage Provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requiring private health insurers to allow young adults to remain on their parent’s plan until age 26, was associated with increased labor neuraxial analgesia use.
This study used a natural experiment design and birth certificate data for spontaneous vaginal deliveries in 28 US states between 2009 and 2013. The intervention was the Dependent Coverage Provision, categorized into pre- and post-intervention periods (January 2009-August 2010 and September 2010-December 2013, respectively). The exposure was women age, categorized as exposed (21 to 25 years) and unexposed (27 to 31 years). The outcome was the labor neuraxial analgesia utilization rate.
Of the 4,515,667 birth certificates analyzed, 3,033,129 (67.2%) indicated labor neuraxial analgesia use. For women aged 21 to 25 years, labor neuraxial analgesia utilization rates were 64.9% during the pre-intervention period and 68.9% during the post-intervention period (difference: 4.0%; 95% CI: 3.9, 4.2). For women aged 27 to 31 years, labor neuraxial analgesia utilization rates were 64.9% during the pre-intervention period and 67.7% during the post-intervention period (difference: 2.8%; 95% CI: 2.7, 2.9). After adjustment, implementation of the Dependent Coverage Provision was associated with a 1.0% (95% CI: 0.8, 1.2) absolute increase in labor neuraxial analgesia utilization rate among women aged 21 to 25 years compared with women aged 27 to 31 years. The increase was statistically significant for White and Hispanic women but not for Black and Other race and ethnicity women.
Implementation of the Dependent Coverage Provision was associated with a statistically significant increase in labor neuraxial analgesia use, but the small effect size unlikely of clinical significance.