The High Cost of Childbirth…Only in America

Saturday, July 06, 2013
(book by Feona Evans)

In most developed countries, having a baby costs a parent(s) nothing, or is relatively cheap. That is not the case in the United States.


Americans are confronted with hospital costs for delivering a child that can range from $30,000 to $50,000, according to a new report commissioned by three health care groups.


In European countries, like France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the cost tops out at $4,000 (assuming the mother does not require a Cesarean section). In others, like Ireland, there is no cost at public hospitals.


Meanwhile, in the U.S., the annual cumulative cost of about four million births is a whopping $50 billion.


No other country comes close to spending so much on its next generation of citizens. And those in other nations are not getting shortchanged in terms of maternity services.


“It’s not primarily that we get a different bundle of services when we have a baby,” Gerard Anderson, an economist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who studies international health costs, told The New York Times. “It’s that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services we receive.”


Maternity costs in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent years. From 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurance companies paid for childbirth soared 49% for vaginal births and 41% for C-sections, according to the new report.


In terms of dollars, the average price charged for a vaginal delivery and newborn care was about $30,000, and for a C-section it was $50,000, with insurers covering an average of $18,329 and $27,866 for each, the report found.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World (by Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times)

The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States (by Truven Health Analytics for Childbirth Connection, Catalyst for Payment Reform, Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform) (pdf)

Maternal Death Rate in U.S. Doubles in 20 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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