Long term disability claims for complicated pregnancies have decreased nearly 50 percent over the last decade in the U.S., according to data from Unum, a leading provider of disability benefits.
“There are a few trends driving this particular experience, like fewer C-section deliveries, early detection and intervention in high-risk pregnancies, and access to more resources for new moms,” said Greg Breter, senior vice president of benefits at Unum.
After a peak in 2009, low-risk C-section deliveries have been declining over the last several years, according to a study on births in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“With surgery comes the risk for complications,” said Dr. Dean Morrel, a medical consultant for Unum. “Medical professionals have more research available about procedure results, and they’re using that information to ensure C-sections are performed for the right reasons.”
Health insurance carriers have also been more proactive in connecting new moms with specialists early in a pregnancy if new or pre-existing health conditions could trigger a complicated pregnancy. “Early detection and intervention in a high-risk pregnancy is key in reducing the chances of complications,” Morrel notes.
Ed Alvino, Unum’s chief medical officer, also points to medical advances in pre- and post-natal care as a driver in these results.
“Women not only have access to better medical care, there are also more educational materials available stressing the importance of maintaining lifestyles that promote healthier pregnancies.”
While long term disability claims related to complicated pregnancies have decreased, pregnancy remains the No. 1 reason for short term disability. Short term disability is often used for maternity leave for new moms, which Unum paid nearly $100 million in benefits for in 2016.
Unum is the leading provider of group and individual disability benefits in the U.S. and received more than 419,000 new disability claims in 2016.