HCR in 3-D: the $11,837 that could lower abortion rates

Maybe with 3-D movies on the rise, the entire world will start thinking in more than two dimensions — because when it comes to health care reform and abortion, some people seem to forget that there is more than one way to lower the abortion rate. Like by providing affordable health care to low-income women.

Although pro-life Congresspeople — both Republican and Democrat — partly hinged their HCR votes on federal funding for abortions (Democrats like  Bart Stupak caused a raucus when they agreed to vote for the bill on the condition that President Obama sign an executive order banning funding for abortions), giving women access to affordable health care could make it more financially feasible to care for a baby.

According to a 2004 study of abortion patients, 73 percent of women said one of the reasons they chose abortion was because they couldn’t afford a baby. According to costhelper.com, prenatal care costs about $2,000 without insurance — doctors visits, ultrasounds, etc. For someone with insurance, this cost shrinks to about $200.

A complication-free vaginal delivery ranges from $9,000 to $17,000 if you don’t have health insurance. If you need to get a c-section, that price ranges becomes $14,000 to $25,000. That’s a year of college, a new car or a down payment on a house.

Average cost for someone who has private health insurance? A vaginal delivery is about $463 and a c-section is about $523. If a year of college only cost $463 instead of $17,000, do you think more people would go to college after graduating high school? I do. And these costs fluctuate, as patients with insurance could pay between $500 to $3,000 depending on how much coverage the plan offers. But I’d still take a new car for $3,000 instead of paying $17,000.

And this is just the mother’s costs — costhelper explains that the new baby gets a separate hospital bill, which is typically covered by insurance but can run from $1,500 to $4,000 without — assuming the baby is perfectly healthy and delivered to term. If the baby is premature and needs to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, then the cost skyrockets into the tens of thousands.

Considering that women with financial problems would tend to delay prenatal care or possibly not get any at all (or might even be food insecure and not able to properly nourish the fetus), the pregnancy becomes more high-risk and the changes for complications increase.

So, you have a woman who doesn’t have a lot of money, which inherently makes it difficult for her to not only take prenatal vitamins and visit doctors to get ultrasounds and for check-ups, but these financial obstacles could actually make her delivery cost more — perhaps more than $35,000 if she needs a c-section and her baby needs special attention in the NICU. Considering that c-sections are on the rise, especially because of malpractice concerns, this woman would need to plan for a c-section just in case.   

So, best case scenario, the cheapest the medical expenses will be for having a baby without any health insurance is $12,500. That is assuming that the delivery and baby’s medical bill are on the cheapest end of the spectrum, compared with someone who has insurance and would only pay $663 in the best case scenario. Considering an early abortion can range from $350 to $500, and a 16-week abortion ranges from $650 to $700, the price of having a baby with insurance is comparable to having an abortion; therefore, someone who couldn’t afford the extra $11,837 is probably more likely to consider pregnancy financially feasible.

Of course, finances aren’t the only thing that affect whether a woman gets an abortion — career, education, and relationship status (not to mention just sheer not wanting a baby) all are factors. But health care reform, which is currently only seen by pro-lifers as a vehicle for baby-killing, actually enhances coverage and prevents insurance companies from denying women coverage because, yes, they considered pregnancy a “pre-existing condition” and used loopholes to deny women coverage.  

So, instead of focusing on federal funding for abortions, pro-lifers should realize that federal funding for women to get affordable insurance they otherwise couldn’t get is actually good policy toward lowering the number of abortions. As the blog I cited above, Big Think, notes, abortion rates are lower than the U.S.’s in developed countries that have universal health care. Coincidence? I don’t think so.


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One Response to “HCR in 3-D: the $11,837 that could lower abortion rates”

  1. Attacking abortion via family-planning funds is wrong « i, sandwich Says:

    […] afford contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and subsequently get pregnant and have babies, those babies are expensive). […]

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