The United States is the most expensive country in the world to have a baby. Pregnancy and newborn care account for the highest payouts to insurance companies and Medicaid in the United States, with a total price tag of fifty-billion dollars for the cost of four million births in 2013. The cost for vaginal births rose 49% from 2004 to 2010, and Cesarean sections, which are now the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States, rose 53% in just eleven years.
Americans are being grossly overcharged and taken advantage of, with some hospitals charging patients ten times more than it costs to treat them. For example, a hospital charges $20 for a splash of gentian violet, which is used to disinfect the umbilical cord after delivery. The cost for an entire bottle of this disinfectant is only $2.59 at Walgreens. Hospitals, medical equipment dealers, and pharmaceutical companies are taking home large profits while Americans are suffering. Healthcare bills are the cause of 60% of personal bankruptcies.
Sadly, this high cost of healthcare does not translate into better outcomes for women or children. The US has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates when compared with every other developed country in the world. The causes for America's high maternal mortality rate have been attributed to several reasons, including an increase in high risk pregnancies with more women suffering from obesity, diabetes, or hypertension, in addition to our high c-section rate, advanced maternal age, and the fact that our country offers poor quality care. Transparency in the quality and cost of health care can improve outcomes and decrease cost of care.
In an attempt to make maternal healthcare costs in America more transparent, I have created a Call For Action to all women who have given birth in a hospital in America. Please share your insurance bill from your hospital stay by following the three simple steps below, and take part in this nationwide, collaborative performance piece that will unveil the arbitrary prices different hospitals charge for identical services, and help provide a large, detailed database of itemized bills so we can expose how hospitals are over charging Americans and contributing to our healthcare crisis.