Teen Pregnancy

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TEEN PREGNANCY It costs more than money.

Teen pregnancy coasted local taxpayers, hospitals and other health-care organizations more than $1.9 million last year, but health officials agree there is a much greater cost to the community as a whole.

Purview hospital in 2000 collected more than $900,000 for births to 229 teen-agers. Medicaid, a tax-funded program that pays less than HMOs or other insurance for the same services, covered most of the births.

A normal vaginal delivery at Purview costs an average $3,850 and a C-section delivery costs about $7,500, according to hospital spokeswoman Tressa Colalancia.

She said the patients or HMO insurance covered 28 percent of the births to teens and the rest were covered by Medicaid, the state's taxpayer-funded health insurance for the poor.

At St. Mary-Corwin, 109 teenagers gave birth between June 1, 2000, and May 31, 2001.

Spokesman Dave Trudell said no data was immediately available regarding the average cost of a vaginal or surgical delivery, or the total cost of teen-aged deliveries.

Based on Parkview's average cost, St. Mary-Corwin's costs probably fell between $300,000 and $400,000.

C.W. Smith, Parkview's CEO, said the hospital rarely delivers a baby to a teen-ager that isn't covered by public or private insurance.

"For us, it's a break-even. It comes to us if they don't fill out the paperwork (for Medicaid), but most of these kids are pretty savvy" about what's available to them, said Smith.

Parkview's losses, in terms of free care or reduced fees paid by Medicaid, he said, are minimal compared to the social costs of children raising children, and other "real" costs that fan out across the entire community as the babies grow older.

"At 14, these kids don't have the skills, the training or the economic support to raise a child. So they rely on...