Garfield Senior High School

The Costs of Being a Woman in the U.S.

Alicia Lopez, working-class mother of six, is quick to warn first-time mothers of the astronomical — and often concealed — costs of giving birth. With over $15,000 of pregnancy fees and delivery charges under her belt, Ms. Lopez has sworn off children.

“I can’t afford having another kid,” she said in Spanish while laughing.

As comical as that may sound, Lopez’s sentiment appropriately speaks to the ridiculous costs of being pregnant in the U.S. Indeed, the American way of birth is full of no guarantees and lack of financial support, and million of mothers without a comprehensive insurance package are struggling because of it.

According to a 2013 analysis done by Truven Health Analytics, costs for giving birth have tripled since 1996. The rise in pregnancy fees is unmanageable for most expecting mothers. Yet, the exploitation of a pregnant mother’s wallet is fairly recent.

Childbirth Connection, non-profit organization that strives to improve the quality of maternity, reports that women with insurance are charged an average of $3,400 for a pregnancy. Two decades ago, however, women paid noting or relatively little for basic pregnancy and delivery services.

Unfortunately, the same financial abuse instituted by hospitals and insurance companies apply to miscarriage related matters. The bills for miscarriages are radical and — quite frankly — disrespectful.

Indeed, in most cases, it costs more to lose a baby than to bring one to life, in terms beyond the physiological state of mind and stress. All hospital services — regardless of how minuscule and unnecessary they may be — are charged. Transfusions, injections, shots, therapy, counseling sessions, and any care that can result from having a miscarriage come at a high price.

It goes without saying, it’s expensive to be a woman in the U.S. and the fines we have to pay are indicative of more than the type of medical care we seek. Sure, we all want the best hospital care but, in this case, we don’t get what we pay for. Yet, hospital institutions realize, and capitalize on, our want for the best care and exploit it.

Sadly, the rising costs of giving birth or having a miscarriage speak to the treatment of women in modern-day society and females aren’t going to endure the astronomical medical fines they’re forced to pay any longer.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s like hospitals don’t respect women anymore,” Lopez said.

Indeed, no longer willing to facilitate pregnancies or miscarriages, hospitals demonstrate a blatant disregard and understanding of the struggles that come with being women. In the process, hospitals jettison women and their ability to procreate. Ultimately, the ludicrous rise in pregnancy and miscarriage fees, and the freedom hospitals encounter in charging women for an inborn ability, is completely prejudicial and wrong.

Yet, we can’t rely on hospitals to curtail their costs or insurance companies to offer better coverage but there are ways to fight against the extraordinary costs we face. To begin, the United States is the only country to generally charge item by item, meaning that every single pregnancy or miscarriage service is billed for. Services aren’t bundled together as they once used to be. To combat costs, then, expecting mothers can refrain from asking for unnecessary services and accommodations such as television or unneeded ultrasounds.

Additionally, we can revolutionize the entire process of giving birth by making frequent and regular use of midwives and their services. Most American mothers prefer to have licensed doctors like obstetricians and gynecologists present at every single hospital visit and during delivery, and while their knowledge and degree are appeasing and appreciated, they’re also highly expensive and often unnecessary. Adopting the European model of giving birth which makes use of the accessible and inexpensive services of midwives is the way to go about fighting against high pregnancy costs.

It’s time to fight against the injustice being perpetuated by hospitals and insurance companies alike. Expecting mothers know what has to be done and how to do it. Hopefully, one day soon, Ms. Lopez’s pregnancy fees will be cut down too.