Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Won't The Government Step In?

We are seeing historically high cesarean section numbers in this country, and the sad fact is over 40% of all these cesarean sections are being paid for by the government funded health program medicaid. I normally would have never known this, but in 2008 I met with then Congressman Christopher Shays from Connecticut, who in turn provided me with this information.
When I had my second cesarean section, which was not planned or elective, I received a bill from the hospital because they had not been informed of my updated medical insurance information. For a cesarean section, and a 3 day stay, because I got out of there has fast as I possibly could, and they would allow me, it was over $15,000. In 2007 there were 4.3 million births in The United States.
So lets break this down.

4,300,000 Babies Born
1,337,300 cesarean sections
31.1% cesarean section rate

1,337,300 Cesarean Sections
534,920 Cesarean Sections Paid by The US Government
40% of all cesarean sections

Now, lets use my hospital bill, which is smaller than some because I chose to leave early, and not use any pain medication.

534,920 x 15,000 = $8,023,800,000
Over 8 BILLION dollars being spent on cesarean sections, when it is estimated that almost HALF of them are not medically necessary, or caused by medical interventions put in place by hospital staff.

I know it does not seem like a huge amount of money compared to the amount of debt the country is in general, but if we could cut over 4 BILLION dollars in this type of spending, it would make a difference. If medicaid started providing more coverage for midwives, birth centers, home births, again this could all be cut. These numbers are ONLY for hospital births, this does not include the bills for pre natal care, ultrasounds, pre natal testing, bloodwork, and everything else that our current maternity care system puts woman through.
Granted there are some needs for high tech maternity care, just not in every woman, which is what is being suggested today. In low risk, healthy women, the routine testing, inductions, cesarean sections, and what we are seeing are complete over kill.

When will our government notice this and not only save themselves money, but help to lower our maternal and infant death rates?

1 comment:

Maura said...

Actually, it looks like that's 8 BILLION dollars. A pretty significant chunk of change. It's a great point you're making.