Progress Ohio’s Health Horror Hype

Over at, Bret Thompson cited Robert Pear’s New York Times story about a former female Archway Cookie employee from Ashland, OH as an example of “when access to affordable health care is at the whim of your employer”.

The crisis is on display here. Starla D. Darling, 27, was pregnant when she learned that her insurance coverage was about to end. She rushed to the hospital, took a medication to induce labor and then had an emergency Caesarean section, in the hope that her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan would pay for the delivery.

According to the Anthem Blue Cross Ohio website, a 27 year old non-smoker needing insurance for 1 month with a deductible of $250 and 20% coinsurance would cost $94.41 – so the net cost to wait out the baby is $344.41 + 20% of medical expenses after that.

If that’s too expensive, then your only choice is to induce labor so you can have a c-section, right?

Not really.  Federal law requires hospitals to help with labor and delivery of babies.  If a medical condition means that delivering the baby at the first hospital, then they must safely transport you to another hospital that can.  They can’t turn away mothers in labor “just because they can’t pay”.

This raises a few questions.  First, is the only way Mr. Thompson can persuade people to adopt his favored “non-employer provided healthcare insurance” to publish misleading hype?

I’m guessing he’s advocating taxpayer provided socialized medicine as opposed to the personal responsibility of buying your own insurance and obtaining it from charities if too poor to afford your own.

If Bret thinks “non-employer provided healthcare insurance” is the safety net that would prevent people like Ms. Darling from inducing labor early for economic reasons, then why is it that she still undertook this risky approach when she already has Federal mandates ensuring that her baby must be delivered by a hospital regardless of her ability to pay?!?

Unfortunately, no healthcare strategy will prevent people from undertaking unnecessary healthcare risks for a variety of reasons – real or imagined.  But handwringing articles like those by Pear and Thompson lead people like Ms. Darling to misunderstand their options and perhaps overlook safer alternatives.

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