Mississippi's largest insurance company is joining a growing push to decrease the number of early elective deliveries of babies. Mississippi has one of the highest rates of early elective deliveries in the country.
Roughly one in three babies are delivered in Mississippi before the 39th week of pregnancy According to the March of Dimes.
They say that can lead to disastrous early and life long health consequences.
Starting next year Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi will no longer pay for an early delivery unless it is medically necessary.
Sarah Broom is with Blue Cross.
"In other words, if labor comes spontaneously before 39 weeks. There will be a benefit. if there is medical indication to deliver that baby before 39 weeks there will be. But if it is purely an elective delivery, there will be no benefit," Broom said.
A woman who has a Blue Cross insurance could still pay for an elective delivery out of pocket, but that could cost her thousands of dollars more than if she waited a few extra days for a full term delivery.
OB-GYN Dr. Michelle Owens with the University of Mississippi Medical Center says medical practice is catching up to 30 years of data showing early elective deliveries are problematic.
"Those babies are at increased risk for death and for also increased morbities. So they have problems with NICU admissions. They have problems with breathing," Owens said.
The decision could mark a turning point in the effort to decrease the number of early deliveries, which has been spearheaded by the March of Dimes.
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier applauds the decision and has made decreasing pre-term births a top goal, seeing elective deliveries as long hanging fruit.
"What we are trying to do is align all policies. Physician policies and hospital policies insurer policies and educate the public about that. So that we are all working together to the same end which is to have health babies," Curruier said.
There is still on big domino to fall.
Mississippi's Division of Medicaid pays for roughly 60=percent of all births in the state and is still in the process of deciding if it should implement a similar policy.