New York woman receives $80,000 medical bill after treatment for ectopic pregnancy


Getty woman in hospital

A New York woman received a huge medical bill after receiving care for her ectopic pregnancy, an example that shows cost could be a barrier to care for some women, even in abortion-protected states .

Sara Laub said Kaiser Health News [KHN] that she didn’t expect her treatment to be so expensive and time-consuming, or that it didn’t include multiple emergency room visits.

Ectopic pregnancy is rare; it occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, sometimes in a fallopian tube. The Mayo Clinic says these pregnancies “cannot proceed normally” because “the fertilized egg cannot survive and the growing tissue can cause life-threatening bleeding if left untreated.”

The Mayo Clinic adds that if a “fertilized egg continues to develop in the fallopian tube, it may cause the tube to rupture,” adding, “Heavy bleeding inside the abdomen is likely.”

About 1 in 30,000 pregnancies are ectopic, Mayo Clinic states. However, ectopic pregnancies occur more frequently in women receiving fertility treatments, at about 1 in 100 pregnancies.

Laub told KHN that she went to the emergency department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, where she could either have surgery to remove her fallopian tube or be injected with the drug methotrexate. cancer drug used to end an ectopic pregnancy.

After opting for the injection, she had five follow-up emergency room visits for more injections and blood tests before finally requiring surgery. Laub’s total costs for his 12-day medical treatment reached $80,000, with his out-of-pocket costs over $4,000 due to his health care plan.

“As frightening as my ordeal felt at the time, I was acutely aware that I was blessed with easy access to treatment, and elsewhere women with my condition face far worse experiences. “, Laub told KHN, referring to states where treatment for ectopic pregnancies are delayed or prohibited due to laws enacted after the reversal of Roe vs. Wade.

RELATED: Missouri Bill Seeks to Make Abortions for Ectopic Pregnancies Illegal in Restrictive Legislation

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“On the one hand, I’m grateful that I was able to get treatment when I wasn’t in an acute state,” Laub added. “But it’s a terrible feeling to know that the decision I made about the best course of care comes at such a high cost.”

Despite New York laws that protect abortion, health experts say the fees for care Laub received do not reflect the true costs.

RELATED: Celebrities who shared their abortion stories to help women feel less alone

WellRithms, a company that analyzes medical bills from self-funded companies, noted that the hospital Laub visited typically charges $12,541 for the operation, but she was billed $45,020 for it, the outlet reports. . The cost to the hospital to perform the laparoscopic procedure is approximately $3,750, the company estimates.

“Hospitals will charge whatever they can,” Jordan Weintraub, the company’s vice president of claims, told KHN. “They put the payer to refuse items rather than charge appropriately.”

Lenox Hill Hospital eventually defended its charges against KHN, as well as the choice to treat Laub in the emergency room, which is more expensive. “Ectopic pregnancies, which can be life-threatening, require close monitoring and management to ensure successful resolution,” the hospital said. “The emergency context allows for the immediate availability of essential surgical services, as was ultimately needed in this patient’s case.”

The hospital did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The costs of treating ectopic pregnancies vary from state to state, and states like New York and California, despite protecting the right to abortion, currently have some of the highest average costs. for abortion care.

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