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Hospitals, doctors and mothers-to-be are getting the right message: Early elective deliveries are dangerous.

The Leapfrog Group recently shared the latest results from its campaign to publicly report whether hospitals meet standards for early elective deliveries. The good news is that the national average for early elective deliveries has fallen from 17 percent in 2010, when the campaign began, to 4.6 percent in 2013.

Positive Change in Wisconsin and Illinois

Elective deliveries occur when deliveries are scheduled at a specific time, rather than waiting until labor naturally begins. Labor may be started with an induction or the mother may have a cesarean or “C-section” procedure. These deliveries are considered “early” when they occur before 39 weeks.

Wisconsin and Illinois both made significant progress in reducing early elective deliveries. In Illinois, hospitals performed better than the national average.

Year National Average Wisconsin Illinois
2010 17.0% 16.4% 17.8%
2013 4.6% 7.9% 3.5%

A significant number of hospitals in each state attained a “fully meets standards” rating, which means they met or exceeded the Leapfrog target rate of 5.0 percent and they voluntarily supplied this data to Leapfrog.


Early Deliveries Increase Risks
According to materials shared by Consumer Reports’ Choosing Wisely campaign, having an induction or a C-section delivery before 39 weeks increases the likelihood that the baby will:
  • Have breathing or feeding problems
  • Have severe jaundice
  • Require intensive care services
  • Have cerebral palsy, which can impact the ability to move, see, hear, think and learn.
  • In addition, mothers are more likely to suffer postpartum depression when they have an early elective delivery.


Learning About Your Local Hospital

Check Leapfrog’s list of hospitals to learn which hospitals participated and, if so, what rate they achieved. Leapfrog data is unavailable for Iowa, where hospitals choose not to participate in the survey.

The Alliance is a Regional Roll-Out Partner for Leapfrog in Wisconsin, but we also keep an eye on data for Illinois and Iowa because our network is used by employers who self-fund their health benefits in all three states.

Even if a hospital does not participate in the Leapfrog survey, you can still get access to their early elective delivery rate from Medicare’s HospitalCompare site.

  • Go to HospitalCompare and enter a zip code or the name of a specific hospital.
  • Select the desired hospital name and then select “timely and effective care.”
  • Scroll down to click on “pregnancy and delivery care,” which will give you that hospital’s early elective delivery rate.

Good News for Employers

Because early elective deliveries increase health risks for mothers and babies, they also increase costs for employers and other payers. So reducing the rate of early elective deliveries helps mothers and babies while reducing health care costs.

It also proves that public reporting can help change the marketplace. By educating patients and family members about what’s important and showing them how hospitals compare, public reporting rewards hospitals that are already meeting the standards and encourages others to follow suit.

Next, Leapfrog plans to focus attention on cesarean section rates at hospitals reporting at least 50 births annually. Those rates will be published beginning in 2015. Let’s hope that publicly sharing information about cesarean rates has the same positive results for mothers and infants.


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Members & Employers


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Members & Employers
Allan Wearing

Allan Wearing
Guest Blogger, Chief Insurance Services Officer at Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin

Al was the Chief Insurance Services Officer at Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC-SCW). He has the primary responsibility for the oversight of the insurance programs at GHC-SCW including marketing, sales, product development, pricing, underwriting, provider contracting, communication, advertising, public relations, government programs, and customer service.He oversees, manages and provides direction in the development and execution of insurance programs and initiatives in conjunction with the GHC-SCW strategic plan and goals. Al has seen incremental growth in membership of GHC-SCW since joining the organization in 2006 from 53,000 members to now over 75,000 members in 2018. Al has been involved in the Wisconsin health insurance industry for over forty years and has seen significant changes in the industry over the years.He had a long and rewarding career at Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin (BCBSWI) which spanned the decades of the 1970’s through 2006. During that time, he worked principally in a variety of management positions ranging from internal operations to more externally focused areas in various sales, sales management, and executive positions at BCBSWi until his departure in 2006. His tenure at BCBSWI allowed him to develop over the years in a variety of positions which allowed him to understand the importance of the industry in providing exceptional service to all employers and their employees. A lesson that has he has continued to embrace at GHC-SCW. Education and Associations: Al graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Al is a fellow in the Life Management Institute. Al in the past has served on the boards of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Western Wisconsin and continues as an Ambassador, the Cooperative Network Board where he represented the health sector for cooperatives in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters (WAHU), including Past President, and the Madison West Kiwanis Club, including Past President. In addition, Al has previously been a member of the Fond du Lac Area Businesses on Health Board of Directors, as well as a member of the Fond du Lac Rotary Club. Al believes sincerely in the value of community involvement in civic, professional, and business associations and continues to look for opportunities to serve in the community.

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