The High Cost of Having a Baby in America

Parker Milner Contributor
The High Cost of Having a Baby in America
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Tag This: For women in many developed countries, having the baby—not paying for it—is the hard part, The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan writes

What’s happening: “in the U.S., the average new mother with insurance will pay more than $4,500 for her labor and delivery. Giving birth in Finland, by contrast, will set you back a little less than $60.” This is according to a new study in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed healthcare journal established in 1981.

Pushback to the StudyThe Response
By including all medical care in the 12 months leading up to delivery, David Anderson, a research associate with the Duke-Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy, says, the Health Affairs authors “risked overestimating the childbirth-related medical expenses of the women in the study. For example, a broken leg that a woman suffered 11 months before she went into labor would presumably have been included”  Yes, but “an approach that included only expenses directly related to pregnancy would have undercounted the true cost, because some doctors’ visits in the months leading up to childbirth would not be coded by insurers as pregnancy-related” says Michelle Moniz, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Michigan’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and the lead author of the study. 

So What’s Driving the High Prices? Deductibles. More Americans are on plans with high deductibles in recent years as employers have sought to shift health-care costs onto employees. 

Why it matters: high costs may explain why the U.S. has one of the highest maternal-mortality rates in the developed world. It also helps explain why American women are having babies at record low rates. There are of course, multiple factors related to the “baby bust” but “it certainly doesn’t help that having a baby costs more than the median American woman earns in a month“. 

Statistic: Birth rate in the United States from 1990 to 2018 (per 1,000 of population) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista