Did you know that the cost of having a baby is the most expensive area of ALL medicine? Not only is US childbirth the highest cost in the world, but even in the U.S., pregnancy and childbirth hospitalization represents THE most expensive area of medicine. This makes the $97 Billion per year childbirth expense a KEY contributor to the $3 Trillion per year costs of Health Care.
Recently, Brian Williams and his NBC News team conducted a series of investigations on the rising costs of childbirth. They found that since 2004, the costs for both uncomplicated vaginal and c-section births have spiraled as noted in the chart below. Costs varied by state, and even by hospital.
RISING CHILDBIRTH COSTS
According to NBC News and other recent reports, there seems to be an ‘a la carte mentality’ when hospitals charge for services. Whether it is only one aspirin or a specific service, it all adds up into an insurmountable bill. According to a recent news segment by Maggie Smith of CNBC, prices vary much more extremely than they should, and the birthing parents do not know what they (and their insurance companies) are being charged.
THE BIRTH CENTER ANSWER
There is an answer: Birth Centers! The cost of childbirth at a birth center is approximately 1/3 the cost of hospital expenses, and possibly as low as 20% in some cases of the astronomically rising costs. If we are serious about controlling the out-of-control U.S. health care costs, the business model for hospitals needs to be re-evaluated and restructured.
Birth centers are SAFER and CHEAPER than hospital childbirth units. Providing maternity services through a national system of birthing centers would minimize an economic burden on hospitals and communities. This would help to curb runaway U.S. Health Care costs. The Foundation for Living Medicine plans to build a birth center to serve as the test model for a national system of birthing centers.
What were your experiences with hospital childbirth expenses and services? Have you tried birth centers? If so, what were your experiences there?