NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 8, 2005

Pregnant women are taking the lead in "consumer driven health care," says the Wall Street Journal. About 25 percent of working age women are without health insurance. But many who are pregnant are negotiating lower health care costs for maternity services by shopping around, asking for discounts and using cheaper services such as midwives.

For example:

  • A typical hospital birth runs anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000; in one case however, a patient used the services of a midwife for only $2,000, including full prenatal care and delivery.
  • In another case, an obstetrician matched the lower price a pregnant patient had paid on her last delivery, dropping his fee from $3,000 to $1,900.
  • Furthermore, some health insurers are offering pregnant women a card that enables them to receive discount rates with several different providers nationwide; MaternityCard of Austin, Texas, offers a card for $69 a month for a one-year discount.

The process of navigating a complex health care system can be emotionally draining for families. Furthermore, women worry about demanding too much of doctors in the way of price cuts and alienating practitioners who will be handling their baby's birth.

But doctors and insurance agents say that patients should negotiate prices in an effort to make the health care industry compete for their business.

Source: Vanessa Fuhrmans, "Childbirth for Bargain Hunters," Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2005.


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