The Council for Medical Schemes has published a new report on caesarean and natural birth deliveries in South Africa.
The report shows that a growing number of women are opting to have caesareans (CS) despite possible health risks such as increased risk of infection, surgical and anaesthetic complications, reduced likelihood of breastfeeding, and risks for the baby.
The data shows that the median CS rate for private hospitals was at 78.57% compared to 44.10% for public hospitals.
Also of concern to the CMS is the high costs of having a caesarean birth as the median hospital expenditure by medical schemes for natural births and CS was R16,290.69 and R27,086.14, respectively.
The average hospital costs were also significantly higher (67.36%) for CS births, while expenditure on hospital-based specialists and other professionals’ fees also increased.
The below table shows the current costs of having a CS vs a natural birth for women on medical schemes:
This research aligns with claims made within the Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) – the largest, open medical scheme in South Africa with a membership of 2.8 million people as at the end of 2018.
Discovery said that around 100 babies were born on the DHMS every day in South Africa over the last decade
Discovery’s data shows:
- The average cost of a natural birth in 2018 was R24,866 with an average of 2.7 days hospital stay;
- Caesarean delivery cost R43,726 on average, with an average length of stay of 3.8 days;
- 9,641 members (25%) had natural births costing R241 million in total;
- By contrast, 28,553 (75%) members had Caesarean deliveries, costing R1.3 billion.