Cashing in on C-sections

For-profit hospitals in California are performing cesareans at a higher rate

Published September 13, 2010 2:10PM (EDT)


By now, most of us are familiar with the explanations for the soaring cesarean section rate -- namely, it's more convenient for doctors and, until a recent policy change, it was a way for hospitals to guard against legal liability. But a new investigation implies another more sinister motivation: money. California Watch, a non-profit journalistic venture, reports:

A database compiled from state birthing records revealed that women were at least 17 percent more likely to have a cesarean section at a for-profit hospital than at a nonprofit or public hospital from 2005 to 2007. A surgical birth can bring in twice the revenue of a vaginal delivery.

In fact, California hospitals "can increase their revenues by 82 percent on average by performing a C-section instead of a vaginal birth." The average profit from an uncomplicated C-section: $2,240. The revenue from an uncomplicated vaginal birth: $1,230. The cost of valuing hospitals' bottom lines over women's health and personal choice: incalculable.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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