Conservative Solutions to Bettering Maternal and Infant Healthcare Without Increasing Bureaucracy

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This is an IJR Red reported opinion response to IJR’s original investigative piece, “A Tale of Two Countries: Norway’s Healthcare System Sets the International Gold Standard, While the U.S. Lags Far Behind.”

Norway outranks the United States in several areas relating to healthcare, but as IJR reported, the disparity is especially prevalent when it comes to maternal healthcare.

The State of the World’s Mothers report by Save the Children ranked the United State 33 spots below Norway as far as maternal care is concerned.

It is important to note that the report by Save the Children uses atypical metrics for tracking maternal health, including one confusing metric titled “political status.” The metric provides a score based on the percentage of woman that make up the national government. While this may seem like an important figure, the United States (19.5 percent) ranked below Saudi Arabia (19.9 percent) for female political status.

Women received the right to drive just one year ago in Saudi Arabia, so it is a bit of a stretch to say women have more political status there.

Nevertheless, their data on the United States and Norway does show lower rates of infant and mother mortality in the Nordic country. In addition to better survival rates, Norwegian parents have some of the longest paid maternity and paternity leaves on the planet.

Although the United States appears to be behind Norway in maternal care, it is important to fully understand the survival disparities and regulations at play.

Disparities in infant and mother mortality

As the report states, American mothers had a 1 in 1,800 chance of dying while giving birth while Norwegian mothers had a 1 in 14,900 chance of dying while in labor.

For children under 5-years-old, the mortality rate in the United States is 6.9 per every 1,000 live births. In Norway, the mortality rate is just 2.8 per every 1,000 live births.

When just looking at the numbers, it would appear as though the United States has inferior medical treatment for these mothers, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

In the United States, many pro-life mothers carry risky pregnancies to term because they do not believe in aborting the child. This not only puts the mother’s life at risk, but it is also likely that the child will have several health complications post-birth.

While both the mother and the doctors understand the risk, many are willing to take it in hopes that the child will survive.

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Infant and mother mortality are important data points to consider, but they do not tell the full story.

In Iceland, for example, the mortality rate for children under 5-years-old is 2.1 per every 1,000 live births — an exceptionally low rate. What that number doesn’t include is the fact that Iceland bragged about eradicating Down Syndrome children through abortion.

While there may be more children born with their full health, it buries the fact that not all children are given the chance to be born in the first place.

Overregulation of at-home care

Having a baby in the United States is not a cheap process. As IJR reported, mothers in Norway receive luxurious services in comparison to their American counterparts when they have a child. While there is a conversation to be had about the tax burden that imposes on the Norwegian people, it obviously makes it much less financially stressful for the new families.

In Norway, many mothers use midwives for a more natural birthing process. If American mothers choose to avoid the exorbitant hospital fees to opt for using midwives or other at-home birth assistance, they often hit many government-imposed roadblocks.

As Vice explains, there are several hurdles at-home birth providers must get over before they can help any families.

Many states including Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas require women to complete a full exam with a licensed doctor before midwives are allowed to work with the mother-to-be.

A lot of these regulations were put in place to protect the mother, but some believe the regulations are excessive and would prefer to be in full control of their child’s birth rather than being forced to go to expensive medical facilities.

Paid family leave

As IJR reported, Norway provides nearly a year of fully-paid maternity leave, as well as paid paternity leave.

It is important to note that many American companies already provide paid family leave. Around 58 percent of organizations provide paid maternity leave for parents with the average length being 14.5 weeks.

For many, these benefits are deciding points for whether someone will work for a company. If companies want to receive the most talented workforce, they have to provide these benefits.

Although the year of paid leave may sound nice, it can have negative consequences.

According to the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), not only does paid family leave put a burden on companies, but it also makes them less willing to hire women.

There are alternatives to forcing companies to provide extended family leave. Personal care accounts are one such solution.

Personal care accounts are tax-free savings accounts that allow families to save for time away from work due to illnesses, pregnancies, and caring for their family. They allow people to automatically contribute money to their savings accounts.

In some cases, employers contribute funds to these accounts in the same way they contribute to retirement savings such as 401k accounts.

Legislators could encourage more companies to provide personal care accounts by providing tax incentives to businesses that offer this option for their employees.

Another option that legislators could pass is an exemption that allows mothers to tap into their Social Security for 12 weeks following the birth of their child.

As IWF explained, this plan would not cause any new taxes or disincentives to hire women. Tapping into Social Security is tax-neutral, but it would allow the new mothers a steady income in the first few weeks after having the child.

The United States and Norway are two very different countries, and they have different values. While there will always be ways to improve pregnancies for American mothers, it is important to keep in mind that it isn’t wrong for Americans to find solutions that respect our values of life and economic liberty.

What do you think?

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Rocky Drummond
Member

“Personal care accounts are tax-free savings accounts that allow families to save for time away from work due to illnesses, pregnancies, and caring for their family.”

IF your income is high enough to allow saving up. Poor people have babies, too, and they aren’t very likely to work for a company that would contribute to a tax-free savings account.

Screwtape
Member

Ms. Dibble, while your suggestions are positive, it might help were you to present some raw #s instead of just stats to better put things in context.
(the US, Norway, and Iceland are ALL suffering from declining birth rates as of 2017)
US live births 3,853,472 (per the CDC).
Iceland 4,071.
Norway 56,633.
Iceland’s # is .00105 and Norway’s is .014 of the US.

Economies of scale definitely apply and inform statistics.

Phoenix
Member

Out of curiosity – is there a certain metric that made you assume abortions is the reason for lower mortality rate? If that were the case, given the extreme difference between the two countries for mortality rate I’d have assumed abortion rates are insanely higher in Norway, but that isn’t the case.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, i just don’t see how you got there.

Screwtape
Member

“In Iceland, for example, the mortality rate for children under 5-years-old is 2.1 per every 1,000 live births — an exceptionally low rate. What that number doesn’t include is the fact that Iceland bragged about eradicating Down Syndrome children through abortion.”

Ms. Dibble does not appear to assume anything, but is commenting that the mortality rates quoted do not reflect ALL deaths under 5.

Screwtape
Member

FYI, Down Syndrome is a genetic issue, most commonly the result of non-disjuncted genes. This can mean many MORE complications than the “retardation” and physical stunting associated with the condition.

Phoenix
Member

You are right – i must have read it wrong initially. Thanks!

I still do not like bringing abortion as consideration in without numbers to back it up. I’m not really buying just the topic on down syndrome being brought in as an impact simply because: 1. Generally doesn’t put the mom at risk. 2. There is usually pretty high life expectancy for the kiddo. 3. Again, if abortion had any impact then I’d expect major differences in abortion rates between the countries. But there are not.

Screwtape
Member

Since you work IT I know you are familiar with math, probability, and stats. A sample set of stats using increments of 1000 means that Iceland has four and Norway 56 compared to the US’s almost 4000. Some things definitely scale.

I’ve long viewed stats and polls with suspicion, since it’s rare that ALL criteria or context are ever mentioned.

Phoenix
Member

Its worth considering. I didnt get a chance to scan the report like I usually do.

I would think things like prenatal care would have a bigher impact. The cost of which in the US is pretty pricey. I think I had 10k set aside for prenatal and birth – we made a pretty good dent in that even with insurance and a normal pregnancy. A lot of tests were not covered and therefore likely don’t get done by many because they are not cheap.

I’m not saying we should adopt Norway healthcare system though.

Screwtape
Member

I agree that adopting another country’s system is problematic. Scale is the least consideration. Sorry to hear that prenatal testing was NOT included in your insurance and it’s a shame that insurance policies cannot be tailored to accommodate those needs for child-bearing people vs. those with other needs. Thanks Obozocare one-size-fits-all.

Screwtape
Member

FYI, I read my HMO’s policy. I’m paying for pregnancy, prenatal screening, treatment of venereal diseases, etc. whether I need them or not. It’s Bernie Sanders as much as you paying for treatments appropriate to seniors.

Unfortunately, like cable TV, there is no a la carte option.

Phoenix
Member

Yeah, but there are a lot of things that I had covered that would not have been before ACA.

My point is that prenatal is and always has been expensive and the result is that something like 5% just plain skip it. This increases risks for mom and babies.

Screwtape
Member

I noticed that the statistics did NOT include things like the mother’s health, economic circumstances, her age, lifestyle, or other important factors.

Screwtape
Member

If death by abortion is excluded the next question is what ELSE was excluded? Are miscarriages? What about the death of the mother while carrying?

It also doesn’t say what IS included. Death by accident or illness? Congenital defects? (Iceland is a massively inbred country. There’s even a phone app to see if somone you’re dating is a relative.)

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