Texas has just joined the ranks of nearly two dozen other states in changing its Medicaid programs to bring the intrauterine device (IUD) into delivery rooms, according to the Texas Tribune. The new policy will pay hospitals for providing IUDs to women who want one immediately after giving birth. Officials are hoping this change will help rebuild the state’s women’s health program, which has been repeatedly slashed, and offer improved birth control access to low-income women.
Previously, doctors would usually wait until the first postnatal check-up—about six weeks after delivery—before discussing the possibility of an IUD implant. Ten to 40 percent of women fail to show up for this exam, according to the Texas Tribune, and, in some cases, women become pregnant again before the doctor-recommended 18 months between pregnancies. Health officials hope this new, more immediate procedure — which can be done as early as 10 minutes post-delivery — will also keep women healthier.
Simply changing the Medicaid program, however, won’t immediately mean smooth sailing. For the service to be effectively and widely implemented, many doctors and OB/GYNs will require additional training in installing and removing an IUD. Hospitals will also need to adapt to ensure patients receive proper counseling and information on the procedure.
In fact, it’s the lack of training among health specialists that has proven to be the biggest obstacle for more widespread IUD use. As Nora Caplan-Bricker explained in the September/October 2015 issue of Pacific Standard, “nearly one-third of family health care providers needed new training to insert an IUD before they’d feel comfortable recommending one,” even though IUDs are regarded as the most reliable form of birth control among health professionals.
Colorado, one of the first states to change its Medicaid program for this procedure, exemplifies the IUD’s potential: In three years, the state “recovered the investment more than six times over,” according to the Texas Tribune. Texas officials are hoping they see similar results.