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The Association between High-Deductible Health Plan Transition and Contraception and Birth Rates

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Keywords: High-deductible; managed care; contraception; childbirth.

Objective: To evaluate the association between employer-mandated enrollment into high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and contraception and birth rates among reproductive-age women.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Using data from 2002 to 2008, we examined 1,559 women continuously enrolled in a Massachusetts health plan for 1 year before and after an employer-mandated switch from an HMO to a HDHP, compared with 2,793 matched women contemporaneously enrolled in an HMO.

Study Design: We used an individual-level interrupted time series with comparison series design to examine level and trend changes in clinician-provided contraceptives and a differences-in-differences design to assess annual birth rates.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Employer, plan, and member characteristics were obtained from enrollment files. Contraception and childbirth information were extracted from pharmacy and medical claims.

Principal Findings: Monthly contraception rates were 19.0–24.0 percent at baseline. Level and trend changes did not differ between groups (p = .92 andp = .36, respectively). Annual birth rates declined from 57.1/1,000 to 32.7/1,000 among HDHP members and from 61.9/1,000 to 56.2/1,000 among HMO controls, a 40 percent relative reduction in odds of childbirth (odds ratio = 0.60; p = .02).

Conclusions: Women who switched to HDHPs experienced a lower birth rate, which might reflect strategies to avoid childbirth-related out-of-pocket costs under HDHPs.

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