The high cost of maternity care

Consumers in this country pay more for health care than in other
developed countries. And maternity care provides a dramatic example, as
explained in this article by Elisabeth Rosenthal. Check out this chart from Rosenthal's article:


Here's an excerpt:

[T]hough 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. “It’s not primarily that we get a different bundle of services when we
have a baby,” said Gerard Anderson, an economist at the Johns Hopkins
School of Public Health who studies international health costs. “It’s
that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services
we receive.” Those payment incentives for providers also mean that American women
with normal pregnancies tend to get more of everything, necessary or
not, from blood tests to ultrasound scans, said Katy Kozhimannil, a
professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who
studies the cost of women’s health care. Financially, they suffer the consequences. In 2011, 62 percent of women
in the United States covered by private plans that were not obtained
through an employer lacked maternity coverage,
like Ms. Martin. But even many women with coverage are feeling the
pinch as insurers demand higher co-payments and deductibles and exclude
many pregnancy-related services. From 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurers paid for childbirth — one of
the most universal medical encounters — rose 49 percent for vaginal
births and 41 percent for Caesarean sections in the United States, with
average out-of-pocket costs rising fourfold, according to a recent report
by Truven that was commissioned by three health care groups. The
average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about
$30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section, with commercial insurers paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866, the report found.

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