Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hospital Bill From 1960

One of my friends just send me this copy of a hospital bill from 1960. This was for a relative of hers who had delivered a baby and subsequently stayed 5 days in the hospital. (I've obscured the patient's name to preserve her privacy.)

Here's the breakdown:
Hospital (5 days, $21 per day) = $105
Newborn care (5 days, $9 per day) = $45
Routine special services = $9
Delivery room = $45
Anesthesia = $25
Telephone = $1.05

Total = $230.05
(Click on image below to see full size.)

This bill was from Hartford Hospital, a high-quality hospital in Hartford, CT.

In contrast, the typical cost today for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery is $9,000 to $17,000 (without insurance).

Of course, patients with private insurance would have a smaller out-of-pocket cost.

The figure cited for today also include professional fees, which weren't included in 1960 hospital bill. On the other hand, most mothers today don't stay in the hospital 5 days after the delivery but rather only 1-2 days. And today, the baby is typically billed separately for services he or she receives, in the range of $1,500 to $4,000 (as opposed to the $45 in 1960), which should increase today's total.

The only item on the bill that hasn't increased by a factor of 25-100x is the telephone charge.

Some food for thought when thinking about medical inflation.

(Via Hannah K.)