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Royal Birth & Lesson About Cost of Medical Care in the U.S.

If you happened to search Google over the last week for any phrase including “birth” or “childbirth,” your results were likely overwhelmed by one story: the birth of baby George in England. The child, born to Kate Middleton and Prince William has the official name Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. He is now third in line to the British throne. Of course, the royal family has attained celebrity status in the United States and throughout the world, and news of his birth was following closely by billions of people.

But believe it or not, the royal birth is also being used for something besides Facebook-fodder. An Inquisitr article last week discussed the cost of baby George’s birth and compared it with the same procedures here in the United State. The difference is staggering and a reminder of the persistent pricing problems for medical care in America.

Cost of Childbirth
According to the article, the total bill for the royal birth at the St. Mary’s Hospital in London will top out at about $15,000. Keep in mind that this was in the “fanciest” ward in the facility, known as “Lindo Wing.” The room had satellite TV, wireless internet, and even luxuries like a wine list and reclining chair for the father. The story also pointed at that the $15,000 price tag covered “freshly prepared meals, tea and coffee, and a daily newspaper delivered to the room each morning.” In other words,this was a relatively posh childbirth service.

What is the cost of the average American birth? Nearly twice that amount, often coming in at around $30,000. That is only for a vaginal birth. If a C-section is needed that then the bill can come in at tens of thousands more, usually around $50,000. With those statistics in mind, it is little surprise to read that the U.S. leads the world in cost of childbirth (and almost all other medical care).

As we posted about recently, the overall cost of having a baby delivered in the United States has gone up 300% since 1996.

Sadly, the greater expense does not come with increases in quality of services. Rates of birth injury and other preventable complications are not much different in each location. Therefore, the increased money is not going to increased quality. Instead, there are some built in structural differences with the medical systems which lead to the discrepancy.

One of the most obvious differences is that medical bills are itemized in the United States. The English birth came with a set fee. Alternatively, every individual caregiving step is billed individually in the U.S., from use of the birthing tub, individual doses of medication, use of the delivery room, and everything in between.

The shocking cost of medical care in the United States is worthwhile for certain industry interests, but it is bad for everyone else. Hopefully changes are made in the coming years that fall along the “managed care’ spectrum with more transparent and straightforward fees for overall care.

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