This week’s post is by Carl Kerridge, who goes straight to the heart of one of the big issues surrounding the American collective maternity care and that of his lovely wife, the super intelligent Jessica Durivage of Where is My Guru?. Get to know them both, they are an amazing team!
Before you start reading, you may be interested in learning about the Maternity Care Crisis going on in the US today, how America’s Broken Health Care System Affects Women, and why we need a Mothers Declaration of Rights. With that information under your proverbial belt, you’ll be ready to fully appreciate the depth of Carl’s story.
Telling Our Story: The Dark Underbelly of American Maternity Care
Growing up in England I was entitled to free National Health Care (and when I say free I mean the costs were wrapped in to the taxes on everyday items and expenses not paid as premiums to insurance companies or extortionate bills by doctors/ hospitals). I believe this a great system over all and of course as with any system, certainly one that can be taken advantage of by individuals that take advantage of everything they can including social benefits and food coupons but those kinds of people are in every society.
I am now facing the exact opposite here in America – the land of the free – with the impending birth of my first child. I do not believe in health insurance and apparently make too much money for Medicaid so I am titled ‘self pay’. To date several things about this system have seemed incredibly wrong to me and so I am going to give my 5 cents of enlightenment here.
- My wife and I wanted to have a home birth, but unfortunately, due to her previous c-section 15 years ago, a home birth is illegal in South Carolina (note: a home birth would have cost under $5,000 and this would include more one on one care, compassionate care, and better maternal and infant outcomes that far outweigh what we are paying more than double for at the hospital.
- The costs of a birth through the traditional hospital system here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are high, and I mean high. The OBGYN was $3,500 which includes delivery and a monthly visit which lasts all of fifteen minutes. The ultrasounds, blood work and additional testing (many tests we declined due to a lack of necessity) were extra, total cost about $5,000.
- The upcoming hospital bill for birth is a minimum $8,000 for a traditional VBAC with 24 hr stay or $18,000 for a C-section (note that is minimum and does not include any medication as the hospital bills that separately. It does not include a visit from the in hospital pediatrician as that is also billed separately, not really sure why and its not clearly explained).
- When we went to the hospital to “pre-pay” our bill in order to receive a significant discount (65% off) we requested a itemized copy of the charges we were paying for plus an itemized copy of possible charges we may incur during our stay. This, we were told, was not possible.
Here’s where I really believe the scam of this system is fully exploited – there is no fee schedule and no itemized costs or menu of prices. To me this is amazing. I run a small business as a photographer and can not imagine telling my brides or commercial clients that I will bill them after and have no prior idea of the costs, just a ball park number. Here’s the real kick in the ass for me, if you can prepay for your hospital visit you are awarded an amazing 65% discount. Now how is that possible and legal? Something to make you go hmmmmm!! I mean, can you imagine sitting down for dinner in a restaurant and before you order that delicious surf and turf with a bottle of Pinot Noir throwing down your Visa and prepaying for a 65% discount…NOPE. Every business I know of would be out of business if that happened, I know as a business owner that I would. Yet the American Health Care system is apparently thriving and most of the doctors that I know, and I know a few, drive fancy cars and live in huge houses (yes that is a generalization and I know they work hard for years to get degrees and deserve it so don’t hate for the truth).
Now we have the introduction of Obamacare, which when I first heard about was relieved that America was leveling the playing field for the poor and the independently ‘unweathly’, to move towards a more rational system that did not just fatten the pockets of the big boys and insurance companies.
The entire report of costs is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/marketplace_premiums_ib_final.pdf
I hope that some of you will read this with an open mind to that fact that without this many people would never be able to afford insurance, never get the care they need and deserve as humans and after all, we are all human no matter what is in our bank account. In writing this I hope to clear it from my mind before I enter the hospital, which could be any day now, free it from the system that I am forced to enter by living here in SC and free it from laws that make no sense to me.
In my opinion, this nonsense does nothing to support the natural order or mother nature herself (the simple fact that my wife, as a woman, cannot choose how or where she gives birth, has to create a three page birth plan and reinforce it during every week at her appointments, answering the same questions over and over again is a whole other ball of wax, and another blog post). I hope for nothing more than a natural birth (as that is what women having been doing for thousands of years) and to walk away from the machines and polished floors of the medical system with a healthy baby and a happy, smiling wife.
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” is stamped on the paper weight that my wife gave me several years after we started dating. My answer to her is that I am already doing it, I choose to live the life of an adventurer, traveling the globe for work and pleasure, capturing the beauty of life that surrounds us all.