Most of the birth blogs I read have talked about one or both of the birth-related articles that recently appeared in the LA Times and Time magazine. But Knitted in the Womb talked about one I hadn’t seen — from the Wall Street Journal, which talked about the hospital bill a woman received for her uncomplicated vaginal birth: $36,625! Although the total cost was negotiated down by the insurance company (about half off), she still had to pay a percentage of the bill, and had the nasty surprise of finding out that in addition to her annual deductible, her newborn had his own deductible to meet! [If you haven’t read the other articles, Knitted in the Womb has the links on her blog page.]
Not having had a hospital birth, it was definitely a curiosity to me to see certain aspects of this as-yet-unseen type of bill. It was a rude shock, but important for everyone to know, because even if you believe you don’t pay out of pocket, you really do, because all costs the insurance company incurs are passed along to their customers in one form or another. You’re paying for your coworker’s C-section. Fun, huh? [Oh, and don’t expect nationalized health care to improve matters — it will have all the (in)efficiency of Medicare and Medicaid, but on steroids.]
Back to the article — she writes that she requested an itemized statement to make sure she wasn’t billed for services she did not actually receive, and found that the sterile epidural tray cost $530.29. Then writes,
An “Anes-cat 1-basic Outlying Area” was billed at $2,152.55. (I was told this was the cost of the hospital’s resources related to the epidural.) These items were in addition to the separate anesthesiologist’s charge of $1,530 for giving the epidural. Even though the pain-killing epidural shot felt priceless during my 20 hours of labor, I was amazed that its total cost could run so high. [In case you haven’t added that up, it’s over $4,000 for an epidural. And people think that childbirth classes and a doula, which can help you avoid needing an epidural, are expensive! The woman had to pay 15% of charges, so if these charges were the final charges her insurance company agreed to, then that’s about $630, which could cover both childbirth classes and a doula in many areas of the country.]
… the hospital listed a price of $2,382.92 for my recovery, when I hadn’t had a Caesarean section. It turned out the charge was for the 90 minutes I spent in the birthing room after my delivery. I recalled lying exhausted there while a kind nurse checked my vitals and cleaned me up. Important help, for sure, but was it really worth that much money? [This cost of recovery is nearly as much as I paid for my whole birth “package” with my midwives each pregnancy. The prenatal visits were anywhere from 30-90 minutes long, plus they came to my house for the birth and stayed during labor and for a few hours afterwards checking on me and making sure everything was cleaned up. Oh, and it included a labor doula, too!]
Interesting, to be sure. To those of you who have had hospital births, did you know these charges (or anything like it) beforehand? If you have insurance, did you ever see these kinds of bills, or only your out-of-pocket costs (whether home or hospital birth)? If you work in a hospital, are you aware of how much people are billed for services in your hospital, or is that “just something people in billing deal with”?
Filed under: epidurals, Uncategorized | Tagged: baby, birth, C-section, childbirth, childbirth classes, childbirth education, cost of birth, doula, epidural, hospital birth, midwife, midwifery, obstetrician, pregnancy, pregnant, vaginal birth | 10 Comments »