COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The state's Medicaid agency and largest health insurance company will no longer pay for women to give birth early for reasons of convenience.
Gov. Nikki Haley announced Monday that starting Jan. 1, the Department of Health and Human Services and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina won't cover elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks.
The agreement is part of a larger effort to reduce South Carolina's preterm birth rate 8 percent by 2014.
Last week, the March of Dimes again gave South Carolina a D for its premature birth rate. The March of Dimes considers births before 37 weeks of pregnancy to be preterm.
But health officials say too many women also are scheduling unnecessary cesarean sections in those final two weeks, jeopardizing their babies' health.