Maternal Health Insurance Coverage as a Determinant of Obstetrical Anesthesia Care


This study measures the association between health insurance and the likelihood of receiving different obstetrical anesthesia protocols among 121,351 singleton live births in upstate New York during 1992. Mothers receiving a cesarean under Medicaid were approximately twice as likely to receive general anesthesia as those with traditional private coverage. Those receiving a cesarean under an HMO were least likely to receive general anesthesia with adjusted odds of 0.73 (confidence interval [CI] = 0.68-0.79), compared to those with traditional private insurance. Those delivering vaginally under Medicaid, HMO, or no coverage had adjusted odds of receiving an epidural of 0.45 (CI = 0.43-0.48), 0.68 (CI = 0.64-0.71), and 0.44 (CI = 0.38-0.52), respectively, compared to those under traditional private insurance. Although there was some differences by race, the strongest determinant of anesthesia remained insurance type. Insurance-mediated disparities in obstetrical anesthesia care are evident in upstate New York and warrant further study nationally.