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While we do not know the exact rooms the Duchess of Cambridge occupied while giving birth, we do know the charges the hospital publishes (.pdf) for its maternity services. One newspaper has estimated that a 2 night stay in luxury rooms would be about £12,000 or US$ 18,000. Gene Declercq, PhD, Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the Boston University School of Public Health calculates the average cost of a vaginal delivery in the USA is $18,329, although in many cases this is offset by insurance.

Once you strip out the extra costs - two senior consultant obstetricians and the luxury "hotel" accommodation that include meals and overnight stays for the spouse plus the prenatal checks that are included in the package price at the Lindo Wing - Americans pay more than royalty to give birth. Remember the Cambridges are paying the real costs of the stay. The Lindo Wing (.pdf of their brochure) where Kate gave birth is part of a NHS hospital but is run as a commercial unit for "private patients" from the UK and all over the world. The object is to add to the income of the NHS Trust that runs the hospital and others in the area.

Gene Declerque's figures are of course averaged and do not reflect the reputation of both the hospital and OB staff so a comparison you would have to, if you can, get prices from somewhere like the Mayo Clinic. He calculates that even after insurance, Americans pay about $3400 out of pocket. The cost of a birth to the NHS depends on where it happens but in a hospital unit (2012 figures) the average is £1,631 or US$2450.

In other words Americans spend more in co-pays than it costs Britain's national health service to deliver free to the parents.

The Republicans of course would have you believe that as the USA has the "best healthcare in the world" these extra costs are worthwhile but Declerque points out:

What's ironic is we can't even claim that the extra expense pays off in healthier mothers and babies. According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. ranks at or near the bottom on virtually all maternity care outcomes.
(Please note the links to the St Mary's Hospital/Imperial NHS Trust/Lindo Wing may not work as there appears to be very heavy demand on their site.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:53:38 AM PDT

  •  One of the reasons births cost more in the US (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polecat, Kevskos, FloridaSNMOM

    is that the overwhelming majority of births are delivered by an OB, while in the UK they are delivered by a midwife, including those babies born in hospitals. That's just a historical difference of long standing. Certainly most babies could be born in the US assisted by midwives and as we look for ways to save healthcare costs hopefully we can start to shift to the use of more non-physicians.

    The US does have the best medical expertise and facilities in the world. They are just allocated on ability to pay.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:10:24 AM PDT

    •  Yup, "allocated on the ability to pay", which (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, cececville

      means the "best" is unaffordable for huge swaths of the population who can't come up with the cash.  This means that many, many people would be much better off getting sick in a country whose facilities might not be quite so state-of-the-art but are accessible to them.  It's rather like a hotel:  The Waldorf may be the best hotel in Manhattan, but if I don't have the $2,000 a night to pay for it, then for me it doesn't exist.  

      -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

      by GulfExpat on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:56:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  GulfE - that's certainly true (0+ / 0-)

        Healthcare is rationed everywhere in the world. We are only first world country that allocate it based on the ability of the patient to pay.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:35:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The second big extra cost (0+ / 0-)

          is the well know preponderance of the American practice in over-testing. One example he gives is mothers being told they need weekly scans after the 20 week mark without any evidence that they are medically necessary in a normal pregnancy.

          I would actually go further and say that it probably adds to the poor outcomes because of the extra stress placed on the mother to attend for them.

          The other aspect of this he identifies is the belief among US patients that the more tests the better and the newer and more expensive the procedure is, the more effective it is.

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 02:09:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LibD - BINGO (0+ / 0-)

            The reason heathcare in the US costs 2X the average first world country is that we TEACH  and practice medicine here is a completely different way that the rest of the world. It's not about health insurance companies or drug company profit margins. Those are all nickles and dimes, it's about the fundamental way medicine is practiced in the US.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 02:40:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, but it's so much easier to fawn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, FloridaSNMOM

    over a New Baby! Look, I'm happy for the parents, regardless of their status, but come on! We should absolutely be having the conversation in regard to "cost comparisons". Thanks for kick-starting it with some real numbers...

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:11:36 AM PDT

  •  It's not freeeeee for the parents unless they were (0+ / 0-)

    broke...that's no different than saying someone who pays a lot for great health insurance got free healthcare if they had no deductible or copay for a hospital visit.

    I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

    by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:57:43 AM PDT

    •  The full phrase is (0+ / 0-)

      "free at the point of delivery". Since everyone, including the long term unemployed, receive NHS care the term "free" is a reality for some. For most there are taxes and National Insurance deductions from their pay however these are a tiny fraction of what a health insurance and pension plan would cost in the USA.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:10:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just a suggestion (0+ / 0-)

        if you're ever debating a repub or moderate on healthcare, that 'at the point of delivery' clause is quite important and still very effective, imo, without allowing them to say you're misstating the cost.

        I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

        by GoGoGoEverton on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:16:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "How much does an American citizen pay for war?" (0+ / 0-)

          Canadian provinces supply free "at point of delivery" medical care to all their residents, usually financed out of general tax revenues (income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, excise tax, gasoline tax, etc). (I live in one of the exceptions where the monthly premium for a family of 3 or more is $133. A tax is a tax is a tax. Low-income people pay zero.) The total charge for pre-natal, delivery room, including C-section, and post-natal care is ZERO. (Her wife or husband may have to pay for parking in the hospital parking lot.)

          Arguing that Canadian medical care is NOT free is the same as trying to figure out how much an American pays for the war in Afghanistan! Sure, you can arrive at some estimate, including or excluding the huge amount of US federal government spending that is debt-financed but it doesn't make any difference. At least in Canada, no one is denied medical treatment based on the balance in their bank account.

  •  And I suspect they are getting rather more care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and help around the time of the birth.

    I have had three children:

    1:In 10 am, baby born 7 pm, home next day 7am.
    2: In 12 pm, baby born 9 pm, home next day 7 am.
    3: In 6 am, baby born 5 pm, home that day at 10 pm.

    I was still exhausted, shaking, and nearly unable to take care of myself. I hadn't even had a bowel movement yet.

    But I'd had a healthy baby, whoop ho, out the door!

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:26:58 AM PDT

  •  This should be on the Rec list! n/t (0+ / 0-)

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