C-Sections, Wary Docs Push Birth Costs Up

Report is critical of high-tech methods, urges natural ones
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2008 11:46 AM CDT
Baby delivered by c-section.   (©Kelly Sue)
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(Newser) – Spending on childbirth—the country's No. 1 reason for hospitalization—is on the rise, and much of it is due to unnecessary tests and procedures, USA Today reports. A new study critical of the system found that $2.5 billion is spent annually on needless high-tech C-sections, which cost more than twice as much as a normal birth. "Everybody recognizes that our health care system's in trouble," says the study's co-author. "But when it comes to maternity care, no one talks about it."

Childbirth-related charges swelled from $79 billion in 2005 to $86 billion in 2006. An expert familiar with the report said that “very significant external forces” were to blame. Doctors often order unnecessary tests to gird themselves against malpractice suits, and C-sections mean a longer stay and more money for the hospital. “A lot of people think pregnant women are accidents waiting to happen,” one of the authors said. “It's just crazy.”