The United States is Terrible at Pregnancy

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Did you see the giant New York Times article about how the American health care system is really bad at handling pregnancy? It’s frustrating, to say the least. The average total price for a having baby is $30,000; make that $50,000 if you get a C-section. (Insurance typically pays only a little more than half of that, and 62 percent of women with non-employer insurance don’t have maternity coverage anyway.) Even more frustrating? The same level of care costs way less in nearly every other country. In Ireland, maternity care is free; in South Africa, giving birth costs less than a quarter what it does Stateside. Nonetheless, we have one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality among industrialized nations.

What does this have to do with Baltimore, you ask? Well, Baltimoreans at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health think our system is messed up — and they should know. “It’s not primarily that we get a different bundle of services [than other countries] when we have a baby,” Gerard Anderson, an economist who studies international health costs at Bloomberg told the Times. “It’s that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services we receive.”

There’s a lot more where that came from; I recommend reading the article in full. If anything, this sort of thing makes me wish Maryland could figure out how to support the home birth option, since it’s often cheaper —  but a bill authorizing certified midwives to practice in the state went under this spring. Anyone else have any ideas, other than fleeing to Canada or remaining childless?



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