State and federal coverage for pregnant immigrants: Prenatal care increased, no change detected for infant health

Laura R. Wherry, Rachel Fabi, Adam Schickedanz, Brendan Saloner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Expanded health insurance coverage for pregnant immigrant women who are in the United States lawfully as well as those who are in the country without documentation may address barriers in access to pregnancy-related care. We present new evidence on the impact of states' public health insurance expansions for pregnant immigrant women (both state-funded and expansions under the Children's Health Insurance Program) on their prenatal care use, mode of delivery, and infant health. Our quasi-experimental design compared changes in immigrant women's outcomes in states expanding coverage to changes in outcomes for nonimmigrant women in the same state and to women in nonexpanding states. We found that prenatal care use increased among all immigrant women following coverage expansion and that cesarean section increased among immigrant women with less than a high school diploma. We found no effects on the incidence of low birthweight, preterm birth, being small for gestational age, or infant death. State public insurance programs that cover pregnant immigrant women appear to have improved prenatal care utilization without observable changes in infant health or mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-615
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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