Of all the sneaky ways businesses rack up customer bills, one wouldn’t expect a hospital to be the same. But, unfortunately for this new mom, a hospital charged her almost $40 just to hold her baby after giving Cesarean birth.
On Tuesday, a Reddit user named “halfthrottle” posted an image of his partner’s itemized bill from the hospital where she gave birth to their son. The bill was shared with the simple caption, “I had to pay $39.95 to hold my baby after he was born.”
Vox reported that the couple wasn’t so angry that the hospital charged a “skin-to-skin” fee, since its employees did an outstanding job delivering their son, but were instead annoyed with the hidden cost.
In halfthrottle’s comments on Reddit, he explained:
“During the C-section the nurse asked my wife if she would like to do skin to skin after the baby was born. Which of course anyone would say yes too.... We just noticed it in the bill today and had a laugh..."
More than anything, the couple was perplexed at the present state of American healthcare that would create the need for such a fee to exist in the first place. However, the fee points more towards the recent breakthrough in post-natal care for C-sections than problems with privatized healthcare.
As a San Francisco-based obstetrician explained on Slate, skin-to-skin contact between a mother and baby while she is undergoing anesthesia is groundbreaking. It's also on the risky side since the mother is heavily under the influence of not only anesthesia, but painkillers as well.
A labor and delivery nurse on Reddit offered some further perspective on this, specifically as to why a hospital would charge for such a seemingly commonplace thing to do after giving Cesarean birth.
One would imagine that holding your baby wouldn’t necessitate any extra cost. But, the nurse explained that an additional staff member would need to be present to make sure the baby and mother are safe.
The nurse wrote, “As a labor and delivery nurse, I can kind of explain this. I didn't know that hospitals charged for it, but doing 'skin to skin' in the operating room requires an additional staff member to be present just to watch the baby. We used to take all babies to the nursery once the NICU team made sure everything was okay. "Skin to skin" in the OR is a relatively new thing and requires a second Labor and Delivery RN to come in to the OR and make sure the baby is safe.”
Even so, this hospital’s hidden skin-to-skin charge is pretty ridiculous — even if extra staff is required. For hospitals to make a natural act, such as holding your own child, a quantifiable clinical “procedure” is just too bizarre.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Carlo Allegri