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American Babies Cost Three Times as Much as European Babies, For Freedom

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Baby-having time is a time of mixed emotions for most families. This is because they are excited about becoming parents (or becoming parents again, as the case may be), worried about preparing in time for the baby (or babies) and sad about the fact that Americans spend more per baby than just about any industrialized country but get poorer outcomes.  See, American babies cost anywhere from $4,000 to $45,000 for a complication-free delivery, depending on which insurance company you have.


Our nephew, for example, cost around $7,000 in copays and $30,000 in hospital bills, making him a very expensive baby who is only appreciating with every doctor visit. Can any of you beat that? Probably, which is sad.

Anyway, let's catch up with this via the New York Times, which  accidentally filed this article in the "Health" section rather than where it really belongs,  the "Money" section:

Ms. Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, [but] her current policy does not cover maternity care...

When she became pregnant, Ms. Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.”

What a silly lady! For some reason she didn't know that insurance companies, not hospitals or doctors, set the price of care. And since she had no insurance company to set the price of care on her behalf, she and her husband were given the greatest gift of all: getting the best price for care in what seems to be a highly unregulated, for-profit marketplace. This is why our health care system is a model for the rest of the world, except for backwards nations where "patient care" seems to take priority over "return on investment":

...New mothers in France and elsewhere often remain in the hospital for nearly a week to heal and learn to breast-feed, while American women tend to be discharged a day or two after birth, since insurers do not pay costs for anything that is not considered medically necessary.

Only in the United States is pregnancy generally billed item by item... There are separate fees for the delivery room, the birthing tub and each night in a semiprivate hospital room, typically thousands of dollars. Even removing the placenta can be coded as a separate charge.

Maybe this is why French people are such effeminate losers, and American babies kick so much ass. We maximize profit!

After her daughter was born five years ago, Dr. Marguerite Duane,  [a former gynecologist who is now an associate professor of medicine at Georgetown] was flabbergasted by the line items on the bills, many for blood tests she said were unnecessary and medicines she never received....

Though she delivered [her second child] with a midwife 12 minutes after arriving at the hospital and was home the next day, the hospital bill alone was more than $6,000, and her insurance co-payment was about $1,500...“Most insurance companies wouldn’t blink at my bill, but it was absurd — it was the least medical delivery in history,” said Dr. Duane, who is taking a break from practice to stay home with her children. “There were no meds. I had no anesthesia. He was never in the nursery. I even brought my own heating pad. I tried to get an explanation, but there were items like ‘maternity supplies.’ What was that? A diaper?”

Yes, probably! Your Wonkette has been charged around $20 for a bag filled with gauze. But we got off easy, since our friend Chris was charged $25 for a single Tylenol and our other friend Jim was charged $25 for a Kleenex (we think. He still hasn't figured out exactly what that charge was for.)

But thank goodness we live in a free-market society and not in a socialist hellhole like France, or Sweden. Our babies are more expensive probably because they are BETTER and our women need less aftercare because they are so much tougher, most likely, right?

We polled our friends, and the most expensive baby we could find was actually our nephew, the aforementioned little whippersnapper that cost around $7,000 in copays plus around $30,000 in hospital bills. Can any of you in the commentariat beat that? Who has the most expensive baby? Remember, "expensive" is code for "better!"

[NYT]

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Hell of a coincidence we have here! On the very same day that a Russian spy gets arrested for using the NRA as a conduit to the Republican Party -- ahem POLITICAL PARTY 1! -- the United States Treasury announces that it won't be collecting donor information from "social welfare groups." Guess which "GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION" is a tax exempt social welfare group that raised $337 million in 2016 and will now be able to hide its donor list from the prying eyes of the American public?

Here's a hint:

That's right, donors to the the NRA and those Kochsuckers at Americans for Prosperity can now dump infinity political dollars into their lobbying and electioneering efforts without having their names disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Or the IRS. Or anyone who might object to propping up lunatic politicians who want to arm preschoolers.

In the bad old days, i.e. yesterday, "social welfare organizations" had to give the IRS names and addresses of anyone donating over $5,000. But now they get to keep it all secret, as White Jesus and Charles Koch intended. Here's how the Treasury explains the change on its website.

Tax-exempt organizations described by section 501(c), other than section 501(c)(3) organizations, are no longer required to report the names and addresses of their contributors on the Schedule B of their Forms 990 or 990-EZ.

Okay, now 'splain us how awesome this is gonna be, Steven Mnuchin!

Americans shouldn't be required to send the IRS information that it doesn't need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency. The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.

BOOOOORING! Hey, Mitch McConnell, you're a big old whore -- say the quiet part out loud to the Wall Street Journal.

The IRS's decision is a move in the right direction to end activist regulators' culture of intimidation to silence political speech. [...] More and more states were using these documents to chill political discourse, rather than encourage it.

That'll do it! Can't do anything about the pizza racists running their mouths and ruining the grift. But you can make it harder for customers to work out what corporate owners do with their earnings. Because money is speech, and speech is free, and we all have a First Amendment right to secretly fund organizations that team up with Russia to ratfuck American elections and starve the poor.

Thanks, Justice Kennedy!

Follow your FDF on Twitter!

If you click here to fund us, we promise not to make you read about tax policy tomorrow! PROBABLY.

[Treasury.gov / WSJ]

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Fox News has been LI'L BIT CONFUSED about how to cover Donald Trump's treason meeting with Vladimir Putin. There was a lot of tut-tutting from Fox's daytime journalists (the "real" ones) on Monday, but then it was Double Dipshit Time on Monday night as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity took over the commentary. Carlson found the real election hackers (brown Mexican people who either move to America and become legal citizens who vote or brown Mexican people who are just born here, as if THAT is allowed!) and declared that Russian meddling is like number 115 on the list of things that threaten America. (The other 114 are the blacks and the Mexicans and the gypsies, because Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist.) Meanwhile, Hannity hosted Donald Trump for some kind of mutual lick-off session where Trump said that Putin had informed him that there was NO COLLUSION. It's good to have a KGB handler who remembers stuff like that!

But even then, there was a hopeful moment! Fox News's Chris Wallace committed an actual act of journalism Monday night when he interviewed Vladimir Putin, going so far as to stick Robert Mueller's indictments in the Russian leader's stupid fucking face and dare him to read them. He even asked Putin why he constantly murders people with poison. GO GET HIM, CHRIS WALLACE!

Usually the next morning's "Fox & Friends" is like Carlson and Hannity's afterbirth, but Tuesday morning was a little bit different! For some reason, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade and Abby Huntsman were not 100% pleased with Dear Leader's behavior in Helsinki! So they put on their Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski masks and did their best impression of a more dumber version of "Morning Joe," and oh my god it was SO WEIRD. Like, they would be outraged for a second, but then they would immediately compliment him and reassure him that he is a Very Good Boy who won that presidential election fair and square.

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