As if the future weren’t terrifying enough for us low-earners in this country, today the New York Times reminded readers that being a pregnant low-earner is pretty much the worst thing ever. Even with health insurance, the cost of pregnancy can be astronomical, with deductibles and costs of service going up and up. And if you’re not insured, well, good luck with that $1,000 sonogram.
According to the Times, women pay an average of $3,400 out of pocket for maternity care during their pregnancies, an astronomical sum if you factor in outside insurance costs, too. Outside of the United States, insurance companies and government subsidies cover a lot of the care costs, and procedures and treatments are priced much lower. And , when our mothers were pregnant with us a few decades ago, they probably paid only a small fee for their hospital rooms, with a lot of the other treatments and fees covered.
To throw some numbers at you: in 2012, the average cost for conventional delivery in the United States was nearly $10,000, and Caesarian deliveries cost over $15,000. In the United Kingdom, conventional delivery cost about $2,600, and in France it runs about $3,500. Hospitals here don’t offer expectant mothers flat fees for care coverage, and price different treatments a la carte, so bills for everything from blood tests to heart scans to ultrasounds really add up.
“We’ve created incentives that encourage more expensive care, rather than care that is good for the mother,” Maureen Corry, the executive director of Childbirth Connection, told the Times.
Oh, and we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the Western world, so don’t think these high costs are keeping everyone so safe.
There are also reportedly few standard prices for different tests and treatments, which only adds to the high costs. One man, a freelancer, told the Times he and his wife had been quoted $265 for a pre-natal heart scan, and the cost ended up being $2,775.
“All of a sudden I have a bill that’s as much as I make in a month, and is more than 10 times what I’d been quoted,” he said. “I don’t know how I could have been a better consumer, I asked for a quote. Then I get this six-part bill.”
Another couple purchased private medical insurance without a $450/month rider covering pregnancy care before finding out they were expecting: when they asked a hospital for an estimate of cost, they were given a range of $4,000 to $45,000.
In 2014, Obamacare will extend to cover some maternity care costs, so pregnant women will at least be offered some coverage with or without insurance. But the high costs of pregnancy are still out of control — we’ve covered clinics and programs that offer help to uninsured expectant mothers before — and that’s not even factoring in how expensive it is to raise a child, especially in New York City. Maybe we should all stick to raising Sims families, instead.