CIGNA Stepping Up: 15th Year as National Sponsor for March for Babies
BLOOMFIELD, Conn. & PHILADELPHIA. - How much progress toward healthier babies can a dedicated group of employees accomplish in 15 years? Plenty.
This is the 15th consecutive year that CIGNA is the national health care sponsor for March of Dimes March for Babies. Over the past 14 years, nearly 60,000 CIGNA employees and their friends and family have walked in the annual March. The walkers and corporate fund-raising efforts have raised more than $22 million, all for one purpose – to help mothers have healthy, full–term pregnancies and reduce the number of pre-term births.
“As a physician and a CIGNA employee, I’m proud to join the March of Dimes in our collective work to prevent prematurity and the social, emotional and economic costs that come with babies being born too soon,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kang, CIGNA’s chief medical officer. “Improving the health, well-being and security of the people we serve is our mission at CIGNA, and collaborating with the March of Dimes helps us fulfill that mission.”
In the time since CIGNA first became a national sponsor, the March of Dimes has accomplished much to give every baby a healthy start in life. For instance, in 1996 the Food and Drug Administration approved the fortification of grain products with folic acid after three years of advocacy efforts by the March of Dimes. From 1998 to 2002, the March of Dimes held its campaign to teach women about the importance of folic acid in preventing birth defects. And in 2008, March of Dimes’ volunteer efforts led to an expansion in all 50 states of newborn screening for life-threatening but treatable disorders. “So much has been done, but there is so much more work to be done, and CIGNA is dedicated to supporting March of Dimes’ continued efforts,” Dr. Kang said.
Earlier this month there was good news in the report from the National Center for Health Statistics of the preliminary 2007 birth data. For the first time, the nation’s preterm birth rate dropped slightly for babies born at 34-36 weeks, an encouraging finding reflecting the attention being called to the problem of late preterm birth.
Families and society as a whole are impacted tremendously by pre-term birth. New parents face leaving the hospital empty-handed after giving birth while their new son or daughter remains in treatment. Employers are also impacted. Each premature birth costs employers an additional $41,456 per birth including direct care and the cost in lost productivity from mothers who miss work to care for their babies who are born pre-term.1
March of Dimes’ analyses found that premature infants spent on average more than 14 days hospitalized before their first birthday, compared to just more than two days for healthy, full-term infants and that they averaged more than 21 outpatient medical visits compared to just 14 for full-term infants. When combined, maternity costs for a premature infant were four times as high as those for an infant born without complications, $64,713 and $15,047 respectively, according to the March of Dimes.2
“March of Dimes and CIGNA are a great team when it comes to getting women the information they need to be healthy themselves and to have healthy pregnancies,” said Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “We are grateful to CIGNA and its employees for 15 years of loyal partnership in support of our efforts to help families have stronger, healthier babies.”
1 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2002 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, prepared by March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, 2004.
2 The Cost of Prematurity to U.S. Employers, 2008, March of Dimes, http://marchofdimes.com/peristats/pdfdocs/cts/ThomsonAnalysis2008_SummaryDocument_final121208.pdf
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