Cost of giving birth varies greatly from clinic to clinic

What is the real cost of giving birth in Greece? Does the city in which a baby is born affect the price? Is it more expensive in Athens, for instance, than in the country?s second city, Thessaloniki? How can the total cost, including medical exams carried out during pregnancy, be clarified?

Much has been written and said on the subject, especially after the explosion of private healthcare in Greece and the heavy promotion of private maternity clinics. Nevertheless, the answer remains unsatisfactory, as the prices resemble those seen at stock exchanges. As the former chairman of a well-established private Athens maternity clinic once put it: ?We are a hospital of joy and this allows us to raise charges regularly if we find this will benefit the business.?

The EKPOIZO consumer organization recently conducted market research on private maternity clinics in collaboration with the Family Club blog. Its report concluded that giving birth at Athenian maternity clinics is more expensive than at equivalent private facilities in Thessaloniki. The cost of natural childbirth, for instance, including medicines, medical tests and a four-day stay at a major maternity clinic in Attica ranges from 2,400 to 3,250 euros, while having a private room entails spending between 4,000 and 6,450 euros. In Thessaloniki, prices range from 1,450 to 2,180 euros when opting for a shared hospital room and 2,400-3,700 euros for a single room.

Families are also advised to pay special attention to the prices of medical exams, as this is an area in which they could find themselves defenseless against private maternity hospital policy. The report notes that overcharging or being urged to carry out expensive yet unnecessary tests is pretty commonplace.

A complaint expressed by a pregnant woman to Kathimerini provides an example. The woman was admitted for 24 hours to a private clinic in Attica for a second round of routine medical testing. She was asked to pay 1,300 euros, but then she realized that she had been charged twice for the same tests, and had also been billed for an exam which never took place. Finally, after much protest, the sum was reduced to 550 euros. At the same time, a number of services provided in private facilities might be billed as extra and vary depending on the facility. These include epidurals, anesthesia, lab and medical tests, as well as the fees of doctors, pediatricians and midwives.

Another fee to be calculated is that of the obstetrician, which is the same as the price of the hospital room, according to the EKPOIZO report. The same report also cites examples that demonstrate how the overall charges for both private and public maternity clinics are determined.

The cost of giving birth naturally at a well-established maternity clinic — where it is estimated that around 15 percent of Greek women give birth to 100,000 babies every year — comes to 7,000 euros: 2,850 euros for the room, 700 euros for the medical supplies and medicines, and the rest for the doctor?s fee. The cost could rise by 1,000 euros in the case that an epidural, an incubator or the use of phototherapy for jaundice is required.

Giving birth at a public hospital, on the other hand (where it is estimated that 7 percent of Greek babies are born annually), comes to 440 euros, including a shared hospital room, medical supplies, tests and medicines.

Something else to consider in this case is the ?fakelaki? — cash that could be demanded by the obstetrician. Although this kind of practice is illegal, it invariably arises, usually outside the hospital room.

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