American Women Spend More On Childbirth Than Any Other Nation In The World

July 2, 2013  |  

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Maybe it’s more economical to move to South Africa if you’re expecting a bundle of joy. Statistics show that South African mothers pay $2,035 for delivering a child while U.S. mothers spend $9,755 for childbirth. Americans, according to the Seattle Times, spend the most on newborn care than any other nation in the world.

Expenses for delivering children have tripled over the last 20 years, says a study by Truven Health Analytics. With the hefty costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care, the bill accumulates to more than $50 million for all U.S. deliveries. Medicaid programs and most insurers disburse the most cash for “maternity and newborn care”, added Seattle Times.

You would think that with such a high price tag on maternity care, American mothers would have access to advanced technological services than other nations, but this does not seem to be the case. Studies have shown that citizens of other developed countries “do not have less access to care or to high-tech care during the pregnancy than Americans do,” it added.

Compared to other countries, the average American woman pays more for childbirth because they undergo the same hospital services more often. Women in the U.S. “tend to get more of everything, necessary or not, from blood tests to ultrasound scans”, said Katy Kozhimannil, a professor who studies the cost of women’s health care at the University of Minnesota.

Obstetricians once performed ultrasounds for patients in their office for a flat fee. Currently, they charge extra for the service or refer clients to radiologists who have much higher rates. (The New York Times did a big story last month about what drives up the pricing for procedures in the US, in that case, a colonoscopy.)

Studies show that in 2011, 62 percent of women in the U.S. who had private insurance plans — not sponsored by an employer — did not have coverage for pregnancy and newborn care. Even women who did have plans that covered their maternity needs were swamped by demands for higher co-pays and deductibles. According to a survey conducted by Childbirth Connection, expecting mothers pay an average of $3,400 in out-of-pocket costs.

From 2004 to 2010, the Truven study found that the out-of-pocket expenses quadrupled.

“In most other developed countries, comprehensive maternity care is free or cheap”, Seattle added. “Ireland for example, guarantees free maternity care at public hospitals, though women can opt for private deliveries for a fee.”

Pervasive use of midwives in Europe is another reason why other developed countries are not breaking the bank to deliver children. In America, obstetricians are seen as more of a necessity, but in Europe they are seen as specialists “who step in only when there is a risk or need,” Seattle Times added.

Midwives deliver 68 percent of British births; only eight percent of midwives deliver babies in the U.S.

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