New research finds a 17% reduction in hospitalizations during the first 60 days after giving birth in states that expanded Medicaid.

The study also finds some evidence of a smaller decrease in hospitalizations between 61 days and six months postpartum.

According to health care experts, the benefits for brand-new parents and their infants having access to health care during pregnancy as well as during the postpartum period are indisputable. Even so, many patients—including a third of women with pregnancy coverage through Medicaid—are uninsured before or after pregnancy.

Since hospitalizations are evidence of health issues that exacerbate to the point of requiring an inpatient hospital stay, the results provide evidence that Medicaid expansion is beneficial for the health of those who have just given birth, says study coauthor Maria Steenland, an assistant professor of health services, policy, and practice (research) at Brown University.

“Our findings indicate that expanding Medicaid coverage led to improved postpartum health for low-income birthing people,” Steenland says. The findings appear in the journal Health Affairs.

Medicaid provides health insurance for qualifying low-income Americans. In states that adopted the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions since 2014, new eligibility rules allowed a larger share of low-income adults to qualify for Medicaid coverage both before pregnancy and after a 60-day postpartum period. This led to significant increases in Medicaid enrollment and overall insurance coverage both before and after pregnancy, as well as greater continuity of insurance coverage among low-income parents, Steenland explains.

Previous research had examined the effect of Medicaid expansion on postpartum health insurance. But there’s less information available on how the Medicaid expansion affects the use of health services during and after pregnancy—like whether, when, and why new parents go to the doctor after giving birth.

Even prior to the ACA expansions, patients who had access to Medicaid during pregnancy were able to keep their health care coverage for 60 days after giving birth. However, without the expansion, Medicaid coverage ended at that point. The new study examined whether expanding Medicaid to cover people during pregnancy and after the 60-day postpartum cutoff period affected their rates of inpatient hospitalization.

Read the full article about hospitalizations after expanding Medicaid by Corrie Pikul at Futurity .