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Study finds Kaiser Permanente Early Start program could save US billions in health costs
Date:12/20/2011

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A program for women at risk of substance abuse during pregnancy could save nearly $2 billion annually in health care costs if implemented nationwide, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The cost-benefit analysis of the Kaiser Permanente Early Start program follows a 2008 Kaiser Permanente study that showed the program helps pregnant women at risk of substance abuse achieve similar health outcomes for both mothers and their infants as women who do not use cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.

Kaiser Permanente has proved the program decreases maternal and neonatal morbidity and stillbirths, according to study lead author Nancy C. Goler, MD, of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology for The Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, Calif.

"Now, we're able to show everyone that not only is it the right thing to do, we will save money," Dr. Goler said. "This program is a very low-technology intervention that has an enormous net cost savings."

Given the known risk of substance abuse in pregnancy Kaiser Permanente Northern California screens pregnant women by urine toxicology tests and substance-abuse screening questionnaires. This new study examined 49,261 women comparing the health care costs for pregnant women in four groups and found the Early Start program yields an average net cost benefit of $5.9 million annually.

One group of women at risk for substance abuse in pregnancy participated in full Early Start services, including a one-hour psychosocial assessment and follow-up appointments. The second group of women at risk for substance abuse had limited Early Start services, including a one-hour psychosocial assessment without follow-up. The third group of women at risk for substance abuse did not access Early Start, and the women in the control group tested negative for substance use
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Contact: Erin Libit
ELibit@GolinHarris.com
703-741-7053
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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