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Insurers Charging Women $4,500 to Have Babies; Time for Free Delivery!

Republicans are still trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, even though it’s working reasonably well.

But if the Republicans really want to make health care costs and issue in the 2020 election (yes, please do), they could co-opt the issue and point out an area in which the ACA hasn’t done a very good job: maternity costs. In another sign of market failure, insurers have been charging women more and more to preserve our species:

In another sign the health insurance market has implemented cost-sharing to an extent that its products no longer protect consumers facing ordinary medical need, mean out-of-pocket spending for maternity care rose 50% between 2008 and 2015, from $3,000 to $4,500.

That’s the finding of a new study analyzing claims for 650,000 women and 800,000 deliveries from across the United States, an analysis conducted by researchers from University of Michigan and published Monday, Jan. 6, in the journal Health Affairs.

…The majority of the soaring financial impact borne by new mothers in the study was driven by rising deductibles during the period under review. While the ACA requires medium and large employer-based health plans to cover maternity care, it does not mandate maternity coverage be protected from cost sharing.

…The authors also discovered that health insurance now leaves no income level protected from paying over $4,500 out of pocket in order to have a child. Where lower-income mothers with employer insurance had higher out-of-pocket spending in the first five years studied, by 2014 those disparities disappeared, the study found, and the insurance industry began to apply this penalty equally.

By 2015 lower-income women paid an average $4,562 out of pocket for childbirth, while women with higher income paid $4,564 on average [Paul John Scott, “Fully Insured? Having a Baby Will Cost You $4,500 Anyway,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2020.01.06].

$4,500 to have a baby? That’s twelve weeks of work at minimum wage. That’s unacceptable. Don’t kill the ACA; let’s extend it to make sure maternity is 100% covered for every woman in America. If we’re truly pro-life, then we should support free delivery.

Covering the average out-of-pocket costs for the 3,791,712 births the Census estimates happened in the U.S. from mid-2018 to mid-2019 would cost $17.3 billion. That would be 194 F-35s. Covering South Dakota’s 11,911 births over that same year would cost $54.3 million. We could fully cover 25 births with the tax dollars Kristi Noem is giving her daughter and her son-in-law to work for her.


  1. mike from iowa 2020-01-07 12:52

    What’s not like? Wingnuts want forced pregnancies to full term so why shouldn’t their buddies in maternity insurance jack up the profits? And wingnut congressmen have been pushing the SPOTUS to schedule a hearing to overturn Roe and make patient gouging even more lucrative.

  2. jerry 2020-01-07 13:53

    We Americans pay $8,000.00 each, per year on a poll tax, for one of the crappiest healthcare systems in the world. Republicans have perfected the art of strong arm robbery, while we ask “please sir, may we have another robbery?”

    “The U.S. health-care system is the most expensive in the world, costing about $1 trillion more per year than the next-most-expensive system — Switzerland’s. That means U.S. households pay an extra $8,000 per year, compared with what Swiss families pay. Case and Deaton view this extra cost as a “poll tax,” meaning it is levied on every individual regardless of their ability to pay. (Most Americans think of a poll tax as money people once had to pay to register to vote, but “polle” was an archaic German word for “head.” The idea behind a poll tax is that it falls on every head.)” Washington Post 1.7.2020

    We Americans like our healthcare crap sandwich so much, we allow EB5 Rounds to continue to rake in millions of our dollars to keep his fat arse comfy.

  3. Debbo 2020-01-07 15:20

    Walt Hickey addressed this subject in today’s issue of Numlock News:

    In the United States, the average cost of a having a baby was $4,314 out-of-pocket in 2015 for a vaginal birth, which was up from $2,910 in 2008. For cesarean births, that out-of-pocket cost jumped from $3,364 to $5,161, putting the overall average cost of having a baby at $4,500. Health care costs have shifted to the mothers away from insurers, with 87 percent of women owing a deductible in 2015 compared to 69 percent in 2008. Childbirth — the largest reason for hospitalization of American women — has become an immediate, shocking price sting, and it’s possible we’ll never know why…

    Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

    Wait, here’s why.
    In the United States, in 2017 insurers spent $812 billion on administration alone, fully $2,497 per capita and good for 34.2 percent of all national health expenditures. In Canada, that figure is a more reasonable $551 per capita, or just 17 percent. Canada, which has a single payer system, spent $146 per capita on insurers’ overhead compared to $844 per capita in the U.S., and spent merely $196 per capita on hospital administration compared to $933 in the U.S.

    David U. Himmelstein, Terry Campbell and Steffie Woolhandler, Annals of Internal Medicine

    The above is Hickey’s very brief summary of the AIM article. The title in AIM is “Healthcare and Administrative Costs in the USA and Canada, 2017.” It’s actually an abstract and I haven’t read it but you can find it at this link,

  4. Donald Pay 2020-01-08 11:39

    I’m not sure what’s all included in that $4,500. I know when we had a child in 1983, the cost of pre-natal care and delivery was all wrapped up into one package. There was a separate charge for the hospital room and various tests done there. I remember our state health coverage paid all but $500, the best 5 Benjamins I ever spent.

    That $4,500 is a good incentive for birth control, or abortion. Wouldn’t free delivery be a good anti-abortion measure?

  5. MD 2020-01-09 20:51

    Don’t forget to add in the lack of paid leave. While I work a relatively comfortable government job, my wife in the private sector earns 18 days of PTO per year, so she would need to work for 3 and 1/3 years, taking no days off to get a full paid maternity leave. After that, if we both want to return to the workforce, half of one of our incomes will be dedicated to child care.
    We will get a little tax break, but the calculations are not in our favor for doing one of our most basic duties as a species.

    I think we need to call our healthcare system what it is, a market failure.
    Market economics works great for lots of things (look at how much solar panels and LCDs have decreased in cost!). It does not work for health and healthcare, especially when we hide the price from the consumer.

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