High and rising health care prices are hurting America’s families. These high prices, driven largely by hospital consolidation, drive down workers’ paychecks, rachet up insurance premiums, and force tens of millions of Americans into health care debt.
The high cost of childbirth for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance exemplifies the impact of high healthcare costs on American families. Childbirth in a hospital, the single most common cause of hospital admission, which occurs more than 3.6 million times a year, is extraordinarily expensive. More than one in five Americans aged 18-30 with medical debt say pregnancy and childbirth played a role in causing this debt.
This paper examines the high cost of childbirth in America to understand the scale of unaffordable labor and delivery hospital care and highlights the impact that irrational hospital prices have on the financial security of our nation’s families. The paper finds that the average cost of childbirth for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance is nearly one-quarter of the average person’s income. In three states, the average cost of childbirth is greater than 30% of per capita income. For high-cost births — those at the 90th percentile of costs — having a baby costs more than one-third of individuals’ income. In 11 states, high-cost births are more than 40% of the average income.
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