Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Child Birth is One of the Most Expensive Types of Healthcare - Why?

My opinion:  Healthcare in general is very, VERY costly - this story merely represents a fraction of what is going on the the medical universe.  However, I have never thought that OB/GYN might be one of the costliest types of healthcare.  Later on in the article, the author mentions that many of the treatments that women receive may be useless.  This makes me wonder - maybe women are very stressed during pregnancy and feel that they should have everything possible done.  However, I also understand that women without such an attitude would probably pay quite a bit, anyway.  One of the major issues might be that there is no defined price.  Just this week, a tree had to be cut down on my lawn, and the lumberjack gave us a price range before he started working.  When it was done, though, we were charged a price that was higher than the top of the range.  It seems like pregnant women have to deal with this, too, but in much more expensive situations!  We need to start investigating the legality of having price ranges instead of exact prices, and also the differences between American healthcare and that of other nations.  So will Americans begin to have fewer babies because of this?  Feel free to comment. 


American way of birth is costliest in world

LACONIA, N.H. — Seven months pregnant, at a time when most expectant couples are stockpiling diapers and choosing car seats, Renée Martin was struggling with bigger purchases.

At a prenatal class in March, she was told about epidural anesthesia and was given the option of using a birthing tub during labor. To each offer, she had one gnawing question: "How much is that going to cost?"

Though Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, her current policy does not cover maternity care. So the couple had to approach the nine months that led to the birth of their daughter in May like an extended shopping trip though the American health care bazaar, sorting through an array of maternity services that most often have no clear price and — with no insurer to haggle on their behalf — trying to negotiate discounts from hospitals and doctors.

When she became pregnant, Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. "It was unreal," Martin said. "I was like, How could you not know this? You're a hospital."

Midway through her pregnancy, she fought for a deep discount on a $935 bill for an ultrasound, arguing that she had already paid a radiologist $256 to read the scan, which took only 20 minutes of a technician's time using a machine that had been bought years ago. She ended up paying $655. "I feel like I'm in a used-car lot," said Martin, a former art gallery manager who is starting graduate school in the fall.

Like Martin, plenty of other pregnant women are getting sticker shock in the United States, where charges for delivery have about tripled since 1996, according to an analysis done for The New York Times by Truven Health Analytics. Childbirth in the United States is uniquely expensive, and maternity and newborn care constitute the single biggest category of hospital payouts for most commercial insurers and state Medicaid programs. The cumulative costs of approximately 4 million annual births is well over $50 billion.

And though maternity care costs far less in other developed countries than it does in the United States, studies show that their citizens do not have less access to care or to high-tech care during pregnancy than Americans.


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