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Utah bill would make Dad pay half of pregnant Mom’s medical costs

The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on the birth rate in this country and that could have some serious consequences in the future. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

SALT LAKE CITY — An unmarried father couldn’t hide from his responsibility of sharing a pregnant mom’s medical costs, under a House bill passed out of committee last week on Utah’s Capitol Hill. 

Sharing mom’s medical costs 50/50

Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Highland, said his bill, HB113, would allow pregnant women to seek payment of 50% of their out-of-pocket pregnancy, delivery medical costs and insurance premiums from the biological father. 

“For unmarried fathers, there is oftentimes a woman who is bearing the entire brunt of medical costs going through the period of gestation until birth,” Brammer said.

Defense attorney and former prosecutor Greg Skordas joined Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega to discuss the legal aspects of Brammer’s bill.

According to a article from last year, which cited health-claim information from the All-Payer Claims Database, the median charge in Utah for a regular delivery without complications were:

  • Panguitch, Garfield Memorial Hospital: $10,208
  • Tremonton, Bear River Hospital: $8,074
  • Salt Lake City, University of Utah: $7,894 and St. Mark’s Hospital: $6,677
  • St. George, Dixie Regional Medical Center: $6,135
  • Orem, Timpanogos Regional Hospital: $5,630
  • Murray, Intermountain Medical Center $4,819
  • Tooele, Mountain West Medical Center $2,539

Dad’s share is half the cost

“Currently, what are the financial responsibilities of a father, during pregnancy, if the couple is not married?” Dave asked.

“So, the father would be responsible under the law for his share, which is half of the medical costs of the out of pocket, the uninsured medical costs. So if a woman has health insurance, and she has $1,000 deductible, then you would expect the father in a paternity action to be responsible for at least half of that, which would be $500 if you’re not insured. Where there are complications, he could very well be responsible for for much much more,” Skordas said.

Skordas said there has to be financial responsibility for both mother and father. He said the point of the legislation is just to make clear and there is no dispute that both parties share in responsibility for raising their child.

“I want to take the dad’s side on this. Let’s say he’s not the dad, then he’s got to pick up the tab for an attorney to prove that he’s not the dad,” Debbie said.

“Well, that’s exactly right, Debbie, but it’s a fairly simple DNA test,” Skordas said. “It’s a fairly simple process. Daddy goes and gets tested. The child gets tested. Mommy gets tested, and we decide whether or not he’s the father.”

“If he’s not [the natural father] he has no obligation, and he’s out the money for the DNA test, but I mean, that’s something that’s shared between the father and the mother so it’s not necessarily a huge expense. But yeah, it’s an expense. But  it’s better than paying child support for 18 years,” he added.

Oversight from state agency

The Office of Recovery Services could handle the process of having the biological father pay his share of the medical costs as it does with child support, Brammer said. Under that system, the office often garnishes paychecks to collect child support.

If the mother receives an abortion, Brammer said, the father wouldn’t be responsible for the cost unless the abortion is necessary to prevent the death of the mother as determined by her doctor or if the pregnancy was the result of rape.

Learn more about Brammer’s bill at Deseret News.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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