We’re all aware of the enormous cost of health care in the 21st Century and the fact that many of us can no longer afford it. Much disagreement and discussion is given to what to do about it but there don’t seem to be any real solutions being offered.
Regardless of today’s realities I recently had a reason to look back on the reality of one aspect of health care in 1963, the cost of having a child.
My wife and I had lunch with some older relatives who had been rustling through some old papers and came across the hospital records for the birth of their youngest child in 1963. The boy was born in Greenfield Municipal Hospital and the cost of a room was $16 for the mother and $5 for the child. Additional cost were listed on their bill as $5 for circumcision, $7 for laboratory fees, $15 for use of the delivery room, drugs $12.20, and dressings $2.35. The total bill for a four-day stay for mother and son, $120.55.
The family didn’t have insurance to cover the cost so they wrote out a check for the amount and head nurse, Mary VonBargen, RN, signed and handed them a receipt.
My son was born in 1980 and since we had good insurance coverage I have no idea what it cost. All I know is that I’d bet the farm it was more than $120.55. What I remember most about my wife’s stay was a local pediatrician, who had once treated one of our daughters but was not engaged by us for our son, stopping by my wife’s room to say hello and later billing our insurance company for three hospital visitations. We filed a complaint and I can only hope the insurance company denied her claims.