WOMEN

HuffPost Her Stories: The Shocking Cost Of Giving Birth In The U.S.

Plus: This model is fighting for the Latinx and disability communities.
A tweet about the cost of childbirth in the U.S. shocked many people in countries with universal health care.
A tweet about the cost of childbirth in the U.S. shocked many people in countries with universal health care.

Hi, readers!

“I worried about everything — literally, everything — related to childbirth and my baby. But I didn’t even consider what all this might cost,” said Natalie Stechyson, Parents editor for HuffPost Canada. She didn’t have to pay anything. 

So when Natalie saw science journalist Dave Mosher, a father in the U.S., had tweeted that his wife and newborn had been billed $54,371 for a labor and delivery without complications, she wrote about the reactions it drew worldwide.

Dave was shocked, but people in countries with universal health care were even more flabbergasted. In places like the U.K., Canada and Australia, it can cost less than $20 (and in many cases, absolutely nothing) for a similar birth, or even a birth with more complications, they said.

Natalie’s article noted that Canada’s publicly funded health care system allows for insurance plans provided by the territories and provinces to “generally cover medically necessary hospital and physician services related to childbirth,” as laid out by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. 

In their responses to the piece, some readers pointed out that Canadians do pay for such services in another way — via taxes. But many said they were thankful for what little they had to pay in the moment.

“Wow. I paid 100 bucks for 3 nights in a private room,” one woman wrote on Facebook in response to the article. “Went to breastfeeding clinics, had nurse come to my house for follow up. I am also enjoying an 18 month parental leave which i am splitting with my husband. I am truly grateful.” (Parental leave is a topic for another day, but the U.S. doesn’t have federally mandated paid parental leave.)

Because Dave’s family had health insurance, their out-of-pocket costs were about $1,000. However, many Americans are uninsured or underinsured, meaning they likely would have owed much more.

Have you encountered ridiculous charges for childbirth or other health care services? Share your story.

This is my last week compiling the Her Stories newsletter (for now, at least). Thank you for reading and for sharing your own experiences of frustration and accomplishment. My colleague Aurora will take over next week and continue highlighting stories to spark conversations.

Until we meet again,

Follow Natalie Stechyson (@natstechyson) for more stories on parenting, pregnancy, postpartum life and parents’ health, and check out HuffPost Canada’s video series “Life After Birth” to hear the brutal truth about postpartum life. You can also read more from Natalie and her team on many other topics related to childbirth, including Canada’s parental leave, the “motherhood penalty” with employers, and what political parties are promising parents in the country’s upcoming election.

Jillian Mercado has used her role as a model to advocate for others with disabilities.
Jillian Mercado has used her role as a model to advocate for others with disabilities.

Growing up, Jillian Mercado didn’t see anyone who looked like her in the modeling industry. “I just found a moment within myself where I was just like, if I don’t see it out there, and I know in my heart and my soul that I belong here, and it’s what I love doing and it’s in the industry of fashion, then I have to do something about it,” said the 32-year-old Latina, who lives with muscular dystrophy and uses an electric wheelchair. “I have to be that change.” She’s gone on to model for companies like Nordstrom, Target and even the merchandise campaign for Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour. Mercado, who was featured by HuffPost U.S. for Hispanic Heritage Month, has used her position in the industry and on social media to advocate for others with disabilities. One way she does so is by working with companies that see the value of inclusion and the talent those in the disability community have. Yet, she knows change will come slowly. “It’s something that is gonna take time and I have acknowledged that,” she said. “As long as I’m alive, for that matter, I will be fighting the good fight.”

John Bercow, speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, has announced he's stepping down, opening up the position for someone new.
John Bercow, speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, has announced he's stepping down, opening up the position for someone new.

In the 600 years of U.K.’s Parliament, there has been just one female speaker, Betty Boothroyd. Now that Speaker John Bercow is stepping down — especially since the governmental body is in need of some real change — a woman is needed to fill the spot, Sam Smethers writes in an opinion piece for HuffPost U.K. A woman would have what it takes to modernize the institution by making change happen more quickly, she argues. In addition, the speaker needs to stand up to the culture of bullying currently present in Parliament. “A woman Speaker would represent a modern, outward facing institution,” Sam notes, though she wonders whether Parliament is ready for such a change: “But the electorate for this position are MPs themselves so the question is, will a chamber that is two thirds men get it?”

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