Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Over the past 15 years, the cost of delivering a baby vaginally in a hospital has more than doubled, and the cost of Cesarean sections–which have also increased in frequency–have skyrocketed by 70 percent during that period. More from NBC.com:
Over the last 15 years, the cost of vaginal deliveries has practically doubled in the United States, shooting up from $4,918 to $9,294, while the cost of C-sections has increased 70 percent from an average of $8,268 to $14,055, according to Truven Health Analytics.
By contrast, the average cost for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery last year in Switzerland was $4,039 and the average cost in France was $3,541, according to the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP). That’s nearly half to a third of what it cost in the U.S.
In fact, the United States is the most expensive place in the world to give birth, according to the IFHP. The reason, experts say, has to do with the way hospitals calculate our bills.
“Every time you walk into the hospital, they look at everything that happens to you and say, ‘Can I bill for that?’” explained Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management.
“So, if you get an aspirin, they’re going to bill for that. If you get seen by a specialist, they’re going to bill for that.”
Even when families do have insurance, their portion of the bill can be staggering.
Image: Pregnant woman in the hospital, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
The average out-of-pocket cost of fertility treatments tops $5,000, according to a new study of fertility clinics in the San Francisco area. More from Reuters.com:
As expected, researchers found costs were especially high for couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) – over $19,000, on average – and rose with each additional treatment cycle.
“One of the very early questions people ask after we figure out what we need to do to help them get pregnant is how much the treatment is going to cost,” Dr. James Smith, director of male reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco, and the study’s senior author, said.
That expense, he told Reuters Health, “has a big impact – they’re taking out second mortgages on homes, they’re borrowing from friends and family.”
Smith and his colleagues interviewed 332 couples attending one of eight fertility clinics for their first evaluation and gave each a cost diary to record all treatment-related expenses. They then interviewed the couples three more times over the next year and a half about those expenses, including money spent on clinic visits and procedures, medications and miscellaneous items such as travel and parking.
Among all couples, the average out-of-pocket cost of fertility treatment was $5,338. However, that varied depending on what type of treatment they received – from $595 for basic, one-time procedures such as uterine fibroid removal or counseling about timing sex to $19,234 for IVF, the technique used by a majority of couples.
Expenses were higher for couples who took more time to get pregnant and underwent more treatment cycles, the researchers found.
However, there was no clear difference in out-of-pocket expenses based on whether couples reported having insurance coverage for fertility care, according to findings published in The Journal of Urology.
“Usually insurance companies will cover things like labs, the basic diagnostic testing,” Smith said. “But the expensive items, like in vitro fertilization, that’s much less well covered.”
He said that is the case in California and most other states, but that a few – including Massachusetts and Illinois – require insurance companies to have more extensive coverage of fertility treatment.
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, women received more than 150,000 cycles of IVF in 2011.
Image: Fertility lab technician, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
The four to six percent of US children who experience food allergies are facing ever-rising costs, amounting to an average of more than $4,000 per child each year. More from CNN.com:
Why so many kids are experiencing allergies to common food items still isn’t clear, although experts suspect that some of the trend can be attributed to improved public health and sanitation efforts that may have made us too clean to build strong enough immunity to common allergens found in food and the environment. Kids not eating things like nuts and shellfish at an earlier age may also contribute to the rise in food allergies.
Regardless of how the shift began, however, researchers reporting in the journal JAMA Pediatrics say that the economic cost of food allergies is also reaching a peak, with families like the Cunninghams spending an estimated $25 billion per year, or about $4,184 per child. About $4.3 billion of those costs involve direct medical fees such as medications and emergency treatments for allergic reactions, with $20.5 billion going to additional yearly costs to families.
While other studies have investigated the economic toll of food allergies, few have studied in detail how these costs affect a family’s finances.
Image: Peanut allergies, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, August 16th, 2013
The average American family will spend more than $240,000 to raise a single child for 18 years, according to a new report released by the US Department of Agriculture. The costs of day care, food, transportation, clothing, and education are climbing, having risen 3 percent since 2011, and the new numbers don’t even reflect the cost of college. CNN Money reports on the finding, which is worrying to families who are continuing to struggle in economically tenuous times:
At the same time, wages aren’t keeping up. The country’s median annual household income has fallen by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and many of the jobs lost during the recent recession have been replaced with lower-wage positions.
The USDA’s latest estimates include expenses for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education and child care, as well as miscellaneous expenses, such as toys and computers.
The biggest price tag is for families in the urban Northeast earning $105,360 or more. They will spend $446,100, much more than the national average, according to the report. Meanwhile, families earning less than $61,590 a year in rural areas will spend the least, at $143,160.
While expenses in all categories rose in 2012, health care, education and child care spending increased the most.
Health care spending made up around $20,000, or around 8%, of the USDA’s estimated child-rearing expenses for a child born in 2012. Meanwhile, child care and education expenses represented nearly 18% of the total costs for middle-income parents.
Since 2000, the cost of child care has increased twice as fast as the median income of families with children, according to the most recent report from Child Care Aware of America. In 2011, the average cost of full-time center-based care for an infant ranged from about $4,600 a year in Mississippi to more than $15,000 in Massachusetts.
“Many families are priced out of licensed child care services,” said Lynette Fraga, executive director of the nonprofit group. “If they are priced out, then the health and safety of those children are at risk.”
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
As health care costs–and diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)–rise, families find themselves faced with mounting costs and not much help as they would like. More from ABC News about how advocates are lobbying states to mandate that insurance companies cover autism therapies and other costs:
Thirty-two states have required state-regulated health insurance plans to cover autism, according to Autism Speaks, an organization that advocates for families.
Autism spectrum disorders are developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Treatments include behavioral, occupational and speech therapy, and experts say early intervention is critical.
Bills to mandate coverage for care are moving along with success in Hawaii, Minnesota and Nebraska, but Autism Speaks is pushing for a law in all 50 states and calling on Congress to mandate all companies not under state jurisdiction to authorize care.
Many companies who self-insure, like Microsoft and Oracle, have already voluntarily done so, according to Autism Speaks spokesman Rick Remington.
“We are calling on the president for a national plan for autism,” he said. “Prevalence is on the rise, and we are calling out the government to say enough is enough.”
Matt Bengtzen, who works as a manager in local government in Salt Lake City, has two sons with autism, aged 13 and 10.
“The diagnosis was a struggle for us because it was not covered by insurance,” he said. “And I have very good insurance.”
“We actually have been pretty fortunate, because our children are on the more functional side of the autism spectrum,” said Bengtzen, 37. “It’s been difficult, but not devastating.”
Still, the family has spent at least $10,000 out of pocket on each child so far.
Image: Health care costs, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment