10 Jul Hospital Costs For Maternity Care Vary Widely
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Xiao Xu: While research has shown hospital variation in costs of care for other conditions, we know little about whether and how hospitals differ in costs of childbirth related care. With nearly 4 million births each year, childbirth is the most common reason for hospital admission in the U.S. Understanding the pattern and causes of variation in resource utilization during childbirth among hospitals can help inform strategies to reduce costs. Our study used data from 463 hospitals across the country and analyzed hospital costs of maternity care for low-risk births. We found that hospital varied widely in average facility costs per maternity stay.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Xiao Xu: Our study found that estimated facility costs per maternity stay were higher at hospitals with higher rates of cesarean delivery and severe maternal morbidity. So efforts to safely reduce cesarean delivery and more effectively manage maternal morbidities may be areas that hospitals and clinicians can put more efforts in. From patients’ perspective, our study suggests that hospitals differ in costs of care, rates of cesarean delivery, and maternal outcomes. If patients have the option to choose among alternative hospitals, they may want to do some research and look for hospitals that better suit their preference and needs. For example, some websites now publicly report cesarean delivery rate and early delivery rate for hospitals or even costs of care. Although such information is still limited currently, they can be useful resources for patients. More effort to provide patients with better information will ultimately help them make informed decisions about where to receive care.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Xiao Xu: Our study focused on hospital facility costs of maternity stay, future research assessing variation in costs of newborn care and physician costs will provide additional insights as they may show different patterns. In addition, conventional hospital characteristics analyzed in our study, such as teaching status, urban/rural location, and cesarean delivery rate, only explained a small proportion of the variation in hospital costs. We clearly need more research to identify other causes of variation.
Citation: X. Xu, A. Gariepy, L. S. Lundsberg, S. S. Sheth, C. M. Pettker, H. M. Krumholz, J. L. Illuzzi. Wide Variation Found In Hospital Facility Costs For Maternity Stays Involving Low-Risk Childbirth. Health Affairs, 2015; 34 (7): 1212 DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2014.1088
Xiao Xu, Ph.D. Assistant Professor (2015). Hospital Costs Vary Widely For Maternity Care MedicalResearch.com