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Plenty of pregnant women are getting sticker shock in the United States, where charges for delivery have about tripled since 1996, according to an analysis done for The New York Times. Childbirth is uniquely expensive, and maternity and newborn care constitute the single biggest category of hospital payouts for most commercial insurers and state Medicaid programs. The cumulative costs of 4 million annual births is more than $50 billion.
And though maternity care costs far less in other developed countries, studies show their citizens do not have less access to care.
“It’s not primarily that we get a different bundle of services when we have a baby,” said Gerard Anderson, an economist. “It’s that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services we receive.”