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The unexpected cost of a failed pregnancy

Woman getting an ultrasound
A pregnant woman getting an ultrasound. Photo: Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

We know childbirth is wildly expensive in the U.S. The Philadelphia Inquirer has a very depressing related story: The cost of a failed pregnancy can also be unexpectedly large, leaving women or couples to sort through and challenge medical bills on top of an enormous emotional loss.

Details: One woman profiled by the Inquirer, Jodi Laughlin, had to have an emergency C-section. Her baby then lived only 32 minutes, due to a buildup of fluid in her body.

  • Laughlin’s insurer, Cigna, initially denied coverage for her C-section and for 2 procedures to drain the baby’s excess fluids. Those procedures were instead billed at $16,500 and $26,450. Cigna said none of those 3 procedures were medically necessary.
  • The family was eventually able to negotiate that down to $4,000. Laughlin’s husband said he initially hid the bills from his wife, given how much she was already going through.
  • Genetic testing revealed that the same outcome was likely if the Laughlins conceived again, so they turned to fertility treatments — at an out-of-pocket cost of $19,000.

Go deeper: People around the world are waiting longer to have kids

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