Americans’ way of childbirth is the costliest in the world. Shocker, right? In all 21 categories of health care—ranging from simple medications to invasive procedures—prices in the United States are more costly than those of any other country, and often by a huge margin. So it’s not surprising that in America, this most natural of all procedures is one of the most expensive.
However, because the array of maternity services—like all other services in our health care system—are so seemingly spontaneously priced, not even hospitals can give a clear estimate as to the cost of childbirth. According to an interview conducted by NYTimes.com contributor Elisabeth Rosenthal, one expectant mother was told that the price could be anywhere between $4,000 and $45,000! Why the discrepancy? And furthermore, why the high price?
In America, health care isn’t always better than in other countries—we just charge differently. That’s right—the high price of health care is determined by how our doctors and insurance companies choose to bill patients. While other developed countries charge for a package deal, American hospitals and insurance carriers charge per service. Meaning that everything—necessary or not, from the first blood test to delivery—is charged separately.
When you add up the hundreds of dollars billed—in blood typing, the nearly $3,000 heart scan, the $750 epidural, the nearly $10,000 delivery, and even the $20 splash of gentian violet used to disinfect the umbilical cord—it’s understandable that though most parents are happy their bundle of joy has arrived safely, they’re simultaneously dreading the hospital bills that will inevitably flood their mailbox in the coming months. (To read more about the high price of childbirth, check out this article at nytimes.com.
However, maternity doesn’t have to be expensive. If you sign up for a Health Savings Account, you can cover those costs not normally covered by traditional health insurance policies, including maternity expenses. All plans starting in 2014 include maternity coverage. But having an HSA would allow you to pay for additional expenses that your insurance won’t cover – such as a doula.
To learn more about an HSA account and why you might want to consider opening one if you’re considering starting a family in the future, visit our information page at http://www.hsaforamerica.com/hsa-info.htm.
It’s important to note that, in order to qualify for the tax benefits of an HSA account, you must enroll by December 1 and make your first contribution of $3,250 by April 15, 2014. Don’t wait for life to sneak up on you—the best thing you can do is be prepared, and with an HSA account, you can always be prepared for whatever curveballs life may throw your way.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.