April 26, 2018

The cost of delivering a royal baby? Surprisingly cheap—by American standards.

Daily Briefing

    The typical birth in the United States costs far more than the delivery of a British royal baby, according to data from the International Federation of Health Plans.

    The royal treatment

    Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, on Monday gave birth to her third child. She delivered the baby at the Lindo Wing of London's St. Mary's Hospital—"the kind of private, luxurious medical facility one might expect would welcome the fifth in line to the British crown," Fortune reports. According to Axios, the hospital offers amenities such as a menu of wines and champagne to toast the delivery.

    The Lindo Wing in 2015 charged about $8,900 for a non-caesarean delivery and 24 hours in a deluxe room, according to the economist.

    How prices stack up

    In the United States, the average price for a non-cesarean delivery in the in 2015 was nearly $2,000 higher than the Lindo Wing treatment, according to a survey from International Federation of Health Plans.

    A non-caesarean delivery in the United States cost an average of $10,808 in 2015, the survey found. According to Truven Health Analytics, those costs rise to about $30,000 after factoring in pre- and post-natal care. And while insurers generally cover most of those costs, the Economist reports that parents, on average, pay about $3,000 in out-of-pocket maternity costs.

    Ashish Jha, of Harvard University, tweeted, "Unclear whether our health care system has a price problem? Typical birth in a US hospital 'costs' about 20% more than the Lindo Wing."

    According to The Economist, International Federation of Health Plans data show a non-caesarean delivery was less costly than the Lindo Wing in many developed countries, including Switzerland, where the average price was just shy of $8,000; Australia, where the average price was roughly $5,000; and France, where the average price was under $4,000. Further, the Economist reports that many European countries provide no-cost maternity care.

    Poorer maternal outcomes

    On top of higher costs, the United States also generally sees "objectively poorer health outcomes" than other developed countries—especially among women of color and minorities, Fortune reports. For instance, the United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than most comparably wealthy countries, and the rate has increased over the last 20 years, according to Fortune (The Economist, 4/24; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 4/25; Mukherjee, Fortune, 4/24).

    Get our guide to avoid the most common midwifery program pitfalls

    As birth rates stagnate and competition for labor and delivery volumes increases, planners must reassess their obstetrics services and consider alternative birthing programs. One way to attract new patients and revitalize offerings is by giving women the option of midwifery care.

    This briefing shares tactics to launch a successful midwifery program and overcome common pitfalls.

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