30 Jan Not Always Clear Which Insurance Plans Are Affiliated with Catholic Hospitals
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Coleman Drake, PhD
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management
Pitt Public Health
Affiliate faculty member
Medicaid Research Center and Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The religious directives of Catholic hospitals prohibit the provision of many forms of contraception. To examine how Catholic hospitals restrict access to reproductive health services, we examined the market share of Catholic hospitals in every county in the continental US.
We found that nearly 40% of women of reproductive-aged women live in counties with high or dominant Catholic hospital market share. We also examined whether the networks of Health Insurance Marketplace (i.e., Obamacare) plans direct their enrollees toward or away from Catholic hospitals, and thus reproductive health services.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that Marketplace networks tend to direct their enrollees away from Catholic hospitals, with some substantial variation.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Hospitals’ Catholic affiliations may be a significant barrier to access for women seeking reproductive health services, particularly in the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and the East Coast.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: There is very little written about this subject despite its importance. A clear next step would be to examine this subject in the context of Medicaid managed care networks, which cover the majority of births in the US. Future research should also examine how Catholic hospitals’ restrictions on access to reproductive health services affect maternal health outcomes.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: It is often not clear whether hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic church, nor is it clear which networks are covered by Marketplace plans. So, women that are seeking reproductive health services need to be careful when signing up for insurance and selecting a hospital.
Drake C, Jarlenski M, Zhang Y, Polsky D. Market Share of US Catholic Hospitals and Associated Geographic Network Access to Reproductive Health Services. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1920053. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20053
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