It’s rather ironic how in developed countries, despite an ever better quality of life, giving birth and raising a child becomes ever more difficult. Sure, people earn more, they’re more career orientated and growing responsibilities, or lack of responsibility for that matter, has transitioned parenting from early-twenties just a few decades ago, into early-thirties. It’s not only about lack of time, though, it’s money too. Growing a kid is a tough financial strain for the parents, right from the get go – birth.
Giving birth to a baby in the U.S. is estimated to cost between $30,000 and $50,000 depending on the state, hospital, and delivery (vaginal or cesarean), almost triple than it used to cost in 1996. Nevermind this all sounds preposterous, we all know that, what’s interesting is how this figure has constantly grown to such heights. Among developed countries, the US is the most expensive place in the world to deliver a baby. Across the ocean, in countries such as Switzerland, Norway and France, the average cost of a vaginal birth is around $4,000, or almost ten times cheaper than in the US.
Well, lucky for US mothers, health care services are ten times better than in Europe, right? Uhm, not quite. In 2008, the United States ranked 27th in infant mortality among the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Why the heck is child birth so darn expensive then ?
“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 Times. “It’s that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services we receive.”
According to Katy Kozhimannil, a University of Minnesota School of Public Health professor who studies the cost of women’s health care, that means that women are being given unnecessary tests and treatments that will generate more revenue for providers. Instead of charging a flat fee for maternity services, hospitals are billing individually for items such as pain medication, epidurals and blood-type tests.
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