As Republicans in Congress scramble to pass their latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare by the end of the month, it's worth looking at where American health care currently falls short — and why.
For example, pregnant mothers in the U.S. have a mortality risk that's three times higher than in the U.K., according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. Yet, while labor and delivery is vastly safer in Liverpool than it is in Louisiana, it's also vastly cheaper there.
In U.S. dollars, it costs $2,300 on average for a vaginal delivery or planned C-section in the U.K., or $3,400 for a more complicated procedure. By contrast, it costs $30,000 for the former and $50,000 for the latter in the U.S.
In other words, a straightforward birth costs about 13 times more in America, and a complicated birth costs almost 15 times more.
And that's despite the fact that American outcomes are far worse. "The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose by nearly 27 percent between 2000 and 2014," according to a study by the University of Maryland. "For every 100,000 live births, nearly 24 women died during, or within 42 days after pregnancy in 2014. That was up from nearly 19 per 100,000 in 2000."
Many differences account for the disparity in cost as well as quality in the U.S., both of which have grown measurably worse over the past five or six decades. American women mostly see OB-GYNs, for one, and U.S. doctors have a financial incentive to schedule more tests, scans and procedures, including C-sections. More medical interventions means more side effects and more potential problems.
Women in the U.K., by contrast, largely consult with midwives, who prioritize low-intervention pregnancies and natural childbirth.