Increasing obstetrical care access to the rural poor.
Rising malpractice insurance rates have led to a decrease in the number of physicians who provide rural obstetrical care. North Carolina has responded with the Rural Obstetrical Care Incentive (ROCI) Program, which provides up to $6,500 per year to physicians who provide obstetrical care to the rural poor in conjunction with a local health department. This study finds some evidence that the program has led to an increase in the satisfaction that physician participants feel toward the prenatal care available at the local health department; that participants are increasing their provision of obstetrical care to Medicaid patients compared to other physicians in the state; and that the percentage of women delivering after receiving inadequate prenatal care is decreasing in the original ROCI counties, at a time when other rural counties are experiencing an increase in this measure. Other states should consider the ROCI program as one aspect of a rural health strategy.