Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Costs of an epidural

There is a great article about the cost of birth recently in
Wall Street Journal

Those charges I could decipher seemed stunningly high. A "Tray, Anes Epidural" cost $530.29. (After inquiring, I learned this was the tray of sterile equipment used to give me an epidural anesthetic injection.) An "Anes-cat 1-basic Outlying Area" was billed at $2,152.55. (I was told this was the cost of the hospital's resources related to the epidural.) These items were in addition to the separate anesthesiologist's charge of $1,530 for giving the epidural. Even though the pain-killing epidural shot felt priceless during my 20 hours of labor, I was amazed that its total cost could run so high.

When I am named "queen of the insurance companies" - I would mandate that all women who hire a doula and don't use an epidural get reimbursed for their fees. Actually I would mandate reimbursement for all doulas regardless of her epidural usage. But I find it incredulous that doula support is not routinely reimbursed. But yet $4212.04 is never questioned.

Do you cover the cost of healthcare/birth in your childbirth class? My friend Ann Tumblin has the bill from her birth a couple decades ago. I think it was less than the epidural tray in the WSJ journal article! At some point I hope pregnant women find a louder voice to lobby their insurance companies to cover doula care. Plant the seeds in your childbirth class - most of the people in your class will have a second baby.


  1. Avoiding the expense of an epidural was one of the reasons we hired a doula with our first! And I don't think people think of it routinely as an option/trade off. I do mention it in my classes, but not in-depth.

  2. The only thing I talk about relating to cost (since 90% of my clients are planning an inexpensive out-of-hospital experience already) is the fact that midwives get almost nothing for attending a labor that results in an intrapartum transfer. The person who gets paid 95% of the fee is the person who catches the baby. I attended one 36 hour labor as a student midwife, we transferred, the doctor walked in the room, applied the vacuum, guided the baby out, and walked out with almost all of the delivery fee. The midwives got maybe $200 for their 36 hours of work. Even if they got the full delivery fee, it would be a lot less than the cost of an epidural. It's a crazy system!

  3. Angela - you were wise!
    Lizch - I so agree with you! There is something wrong with the whole reimbursement system!
    It's even called "Health" Insurance - not sick insurance. It would be so nice if they funded things that are healthy! I am still surprised that the Insurance system hasn't been more vocal in the escalating cesarean crisis in this country.

  4. The cost of the epidural alone would cover homebirth expenses for just about every homebirth midwifery practice I am familiar with!