We still talk about health insurance as a way to offset large medical bills, even though deductibles and co-payments have risen dramatically, pushing individuals to pay more for large expenses even though they also pay high premiums for years.
The situation becomes apparent at childbirth, when new parents are hit with multi-thousand dollar bills.
The estimated average cost of having a baby for women with health insurance through their employer rose to $4,569 in 2015, up from $3,069 in 2008, according to a report in the journal Health Affairs, a 48% increase.
Dr. Michelle Moniz, of the University of Michigan’s Institute of Healthcare Policy, coauthor of the report, said:
“We found that between 2008 to 2015, 98% of women had some out-of-pocket costs for maternity care. This was a universal phenomenon. These are really big financial burdens for people.”
The study included a national sample of 657,061 women enrolled in 84,178 employer-sponsored plans who had been hospitalized for childbirth from 2008 to 2015.
The numbers were averages, and varied according to what services were necessary during birth. For those needing a cesarean section, the average out-of-pocket spending rose from $3,364 in 2008 to $5,161 in 2015.
Usha Ranji, associate director for women’s health policy at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), said the increase tracks with data from the KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey, which shows that nationally, 82% of covered workers have an annual deductible, and deductible levels rose an average of 100% over the last 10 years.
“Having a baby is the most common reason for hospitalization in the U.S., and even with private insurance, women could face significant out-of-pocket costs when they have a baby,” she said.