“To tell you the truth, tears fell to my eyes.” That was the first reaction of Laura, a blogger specialized in cooking, when she found out a few days after giving birth that the private clinic with which she had done all the monitoring of her pregnancy would charge her between 6,000 and 10,000 euros –extras not included – for childbirth.
The wait for a consultation in Primary Care doubles in four years
For four years, Laura has taken out private health insurance with Asisa for which she pays 51 euros per month, but which does not include hospitalization. Laura herself has never needed hospital admission and, when she became pregnant and began follow-up through the private company, she assumed that her insurance would also cover the delivery. She found out that she was not like that, having already come out of accounts, pregnant at 40 weeks and five days. And then she started the “drama”, she tells elDiario.es.
“I did not expect it,” confesses the girl. “When the hospital calls me on a Friday at half past two in the afternoon and they tell me to contact my insurance because they have just been told that the induction is not covered for me, I cried,” Laura explains by phone, a few hours after labor is induced (finally in a public hospital). “I changed from one insurance to another four years ago; I didn’t look at the fine print, and right now I couldn’t even remember,” she admits.
I changed from one insurance to another four years ago; I didn’t look at the fine print. I shed tears when I found out
The call from the clinic came last Friday, May 19, less than a week before Laura’s appointment to be induced after having completed more than 41 weeks of pregnancy. At that moment, the woman was “in shock”. “I said: I have everything planned, super well closed and, suddenly, your schemes break and you have to find your life, knowing that I could go into labor at any moment,” she says.
Between 6,000 and 10,000 euros, “extras apart”
First, Laura and her partner considered paying for the procedure, an idea that they discarded when they found out, from the private hospital, that a vaginal delivery would cost them between 6,000 and 7,000 euros and a cesarean section between 9,000 and 10,000 euros, “extras aside”.
Right away, Laura decided to turn to her “huge community” on social networks, where she is followed by more than 290,000 people on Instagram and more than 400,000 on TikTok. She told about her problem and her followers recommended that she go to several public hospitals in Barcelona – where Laura has lived for a little over a year – to find out and give birth in one of them. There, specifically in Sant Joan de Déu, the woman found her ‘solution’. “The friendliness of the staff was impressive. They were super understanding, they told me that she was not the only one, ”she explains.
Now, Laura is “very clear” that she will carry out her delivery “with public health.” “Why fight at this point with the insurance? Also, between the private and the public, right now I am calmer in the public in case something happens. The public gives me a lot of confidence. They tell me that if something happens with the baby, literally on the top floor there are qualified personnel for absolutely everything, there are machines for everything. I am super, super calm,” she says.
The “real cost” of healthcare
Laura says that she has had private health insurance “all her life” because her parents had it, for “the ease” and to “avoid waiting” for appointments with specialists. “He never had to go to the doctor and, if she needed him for something specific, she would go private,” she says. The woman herself acknowledges that until now she had not considered the “real cost” of having access to good healthcare.
elDiario.es has contacted Asisa to find out his version. From the insurer they point out that Laura “has perfectly explained what has happened.” “The insured had taken out insurance with outpatient coverage and specialties, but she did not include hospitalization,” they point out. “This type of insurance is contracted by rather young people who do not plan to use their insurance for hospitalization,” she adds. To have “full coverage”, you have to pay “a slightly higher premium”, the amount of which is not specified because “depending on who contracts it or from where, it has a different price”, Asisa sources explain.
These same sources indicate that “when the insured is going to contract, they receive all the information on the coverage included and what is not” and that, apart from that, the hospitals with which the insurer has agreements know what coverage each patient/client has included ” when they see the data of the insured”. From Asisa they also assure that Laura’s “is an exceptional case”. “Normally people know the coverage they have contracted with her insurance. And hospitals usually report. If you don’t have full coverage insurance, you don’t usually go to a private hospital for an emergency,” they say.
Do you know the hundreds of women, perhaps thousands, who have written to me on social networks with similar cases?
This contrasts, however, with Laura’s account. She admits that, in part, it was her “fault” to find out from her at the last minute about what she had contracted; However, she does not seem to be the only person who has been in a similar situation. “Do you know the hundreds of women, perhaps thousands, who have written to me on social networks with similar cases?” She says. Some, according to what she has been told, private insurance “did not cover their [anestesia] epidural”, for example.
Another woman, whose case “has shocked a lot” to Laura, told her that she had to undergo an emergency caesarean section. Since she did not know the associated cost in the private hospital and there was no time to transfer her to another center, the woman “had to pay the full price of the caesarean section at once,” explains Laura. She herself now understands better the “cost” of “mobilizing so much equipment and so much personnel”, in this case for a birth, but “it is still very strong”, she reflects.
“It has been an apprenticeship”
Laura is now “happy” that the birth of her first daughter has been delayed longer than expected, just long enough to find out the price of giving birth in a private hospital and to transfer to a public hospital in time. “It has been a learning experience,” she says, and “a warning to many women who could experience the same thing.”
We are lucky to live in Spain and to have such a powerful healthcare system. That’s wonderful, you can’t pay
When Laura went to the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona, almost 41 weeks pregnant, to find out if they could take care of her delivery there, the woman thought they were going to “yell at her for being stupid”, but “quite the opposite” happened, says the woman, calm down
“We are lucky to live in Spain and to have such a powerful health system, so advanced and with such friendly, polite staff that it does not make you feel bad for mistakes you may have made”, Laura now considers. “That’s wonderful, you can’t afford it,” she says. This bittersweet experience has also helped him “to realize what each thing you do costs” in healthcare. “Even if you pay zero euros, knowing how much it costs gives you value. We don’t realize it, and it’s very strong,” says the woman.