On September 4, Ryan Grassley and his wife Lidia gave birth to their son Samuel in a Utah hospital via Cesarean section. The total cost of the procedure was over $13,000, including a $39.95 skin-to-skin fee for holding their newborn baby.
"I was able to hold the baby on my wife's chest. Her arms were tied to the table and the nurse was there to remind me not to let go so the baby didn't fall. She actually took my camera from me and started snapping pictures for me. It was a positive experience for sure. We just got a chuckle out of seeing that on the bill," read the photo's caption.
The photo blew up, and was viewed on Imgur more than six million times. Even though Grassley found the fee funny, many people who saw it did not have the same view. The photo garnered comments lambasting our current medical system.
But Grassley insisted he only posted it because he thought it was funny and not because he was outraged.
"To be clear I wasn't complaining or trying to send people on a witch hunt for the hospital. We had a very positive experience during the birth of our son, and the hospital and staff were great throughout the entire process. I posted the bill to Reddit because I thought it was funny. It has been interesting to see the shock from people around the world at the cost of medical expenses in the USA," said Grassley.
According to a representative from Intermountain Healthcare, which covers the hospital where the Grassley family gave birth, rather than being a fee to hold the baby, the skin-to-skin fee is there to ensure the safety of the mother and the child. The fee covers the cost of an additional caregiver who is brought into the room “to maintain the highest levels of patient safety.”
Per the representative, “In the case of a C-section, where the bedside caregiver is occupied caring for the mother during surgery, an additional nurse is brought into the OR to allow the infant to remain in the OR suite with the mother."
Grassley joked that if the Go Fund Me beat its goal, he would use the extra money for a vasectomy, because, as he puts it, "I never want to go though these sleepless new baby nights again." The Go Fund Me has already beat its goal.