Treatment for a New York woman’s ectopic pregnancy resulted in an $80,000 medical bill

After taking care of her ectopic pregnancy, a New York woman was hit with a huge bill. This shows that cost can be a barrier to care for some women, even in states where abortion is legal.

Sarah Laub told Kaiser Health News (KHN) that she didn’t expect her treatment to be so expensive, take so long or require so many trips to the emergency room.

Ectopic pregnancy is rare. This happens when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, sometimes in the fallopian tube. The Mayo Clinic says these pregnancies “cannot continue normally” because the fertilized egg cannot live, and if the growing tissue is not treated, it can cause bleeding that can be fatal.

The Mayo Clinic says that if the fertilized egg continues to grow in the fallopian tube, it can cause the tube to rupture, which can lead to a lot of bleeding in the abdomen.

The Mayo Clinic says this ectopic pregnancy occurs once in every 30,000 pregnancies. But about 1 in 100 pregnancies occur outside the uterus when a woman receives infertility treatment.

Laub told KHN that she went to the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. There she may have surgery to remove her fallopian tube or receive an injection of methotrexate, a cancer drug used to terminate an ectopic pregnancy.

Treatment of ectopic pregnancy in women in New York
Treatment of ectopic pregnancy in women in New York

After choosing the shot, she returned to the emergency room five times for more shots and blood tests before having to have surgery. Laub’s medical care took 12 days and cost a total of $80,000. Because of her health care plan, she had to pay more than $4,000 out of pocket.

“As scary as my ordeal felt at the time, I was fully aware that I was fortunate to have easy access to treatment and elsewhere women with my condition face much worse experiences,” Laub told KHN, having given the states where treatment for ectopic pregnancy has been delayed or prohibited because of laws passed after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“On the one hand, I feel grateful that I was able to get treatment when I wasn’t in an acute condition,” Laub added. “But it’s a terrible feeling to know that the decision I made about the best way forward for care comes at such a high price.”

Although New York has laws that protect abortions, health experts say Laub was overcharged for the care she received.

WellRithms, a company that reviews medical bills for self-funded companies, found that Laub’s surgery would normally cost $12,541, but she was billed for $45,020. This was reported by the publication. The company estimates that the cost to the hospital to perform the laparoscopic procedure is about $3,750.

The company’s vice president of claims, Jordan Weintraub, told KHN, “Hospitals are going to charge what they can. They’re forcing the payer to deny items instead of billing appropriately.”

In the end, Lenox Hill Hospital defended its prices to KHN, as well as its decision to treat Laub in the more expensive emergency room. “Ectopic pregnancies, which can be life-threatening conditions, require careful monitoring and management to ensure successful resolution,” the hospital said. “The emergency setting allows for the immediate availability of critical surgical services, as was ultimately necessary in this patient’s case.”

The cost of treating an ectopic pregnancy varies from country to country. Despite protecting abortion rights, states like New York and California have some of the highest average costs of abortion care.

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