Prenatal Care

Gao ID: T-HRD-87-25 September 30, 1987

GAO discussed the problems facing Medicaid recipients and uninsured women in obtaining prenatal care, specifically: (1) the frequency and timing of their prenatal care visits; and (2) why their prenatal care visits were late and infrequent. GAO found that: (1) the Surgeon General's objective to reduce to 5 percent the percentage of low-birth-weight infants by 1990 will not be met; (2) of the women it surveyed, about 63 percent received insufficient prenatal care; (3) low infant birth weight among the women was about 12.4 percent, compared to the national average of 6.8 percent; and (4) lack of money to pay for care, lack of transportation, and unawareness of the pregnancy were the principal barriers to receiving early prenatal care. GAO believes that states could overcome these barriers by: (1) extending medical eligibility to pregnant women with income up to the federal poverty level; (2) extending Medicaid coverage to pregnant women while they process their applications; and (3) allocating additional funds to prenatal care services.

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