Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The cost of childbirth in America

After living in Europe for many years I always found it remarkable; the vast difference in healthcare costs between America and other developed countries. It wasn't until I received the bill for my daughter's birth that I truly understood how ridiculously unaffordable it is to have a baby in this country unless you have excellent health insurance. I never paid much attention to the cost of childbirth prior to getting pregnant for obvious reasons, but once I knew I was pregnant I was very interested to know what the entire process would cost us.

I started by speaking to friends and looking online and realized that the cost of the birth would vary greatly depending on the hospital, state,  type of birth, length of hospital stay etc. Basically there was no way to know for sure exactly what your bill would be until afterwards.  From my research I realized my best bet was to call my insurance company and to find out what percentage would be covered by them. I was pleased to discover that my employer had selected an extremely awesome health insurance plan that pretty much covered everything during the entire pregnancy and birth. I didn't have to pay anything during my entire pregnancy except a $15 copay at my first OB GYN visit. In addition, the entire birth would be fully covered, but I would have to pay $150.00 per night for every night I stayed in the hospital. Based on what I had heard from other people, I expected I might need to stay two or three nights so if everything went according to plan I would have to pay a maximum of $450. Yet everyone I spoke to insisted they received a bill ranging from $8,000 to $15,000 for their relatively straight forward childbirth. Needless to say I was really anxious to know how things would turn out, especially because a month before my daughter was born I received notification from my insurance company that my plan had been updated and my copay per night had gone up from $150 per night to $350 per night. I started to wonder what other fun surprises they would have in store for me, and if they would really hold their end of the bargain or not.

As I posted in my birth story, I ended up staying in the hospital for five days and four nights, I was induced unexpectedly and ultimately had a C-section. So I knew my hospital bill would be higher than a simple natural birth but it still turned out to be a lot more than I expected.  About 6 weeks after my daughter was born I received a bill from the hospital. The total cost for my daughters birth and our hospital stay came up to $21,490.25! Let me spell that out for you, Twenty-one thousand, four hundred and ninety dollars and twenty five cents...   To state the obvious, the average person simply doesn't have $21,000 lying around for the birth of each child!

The breakdown of the bill is shown in detail below. I highlighted the main charges, as you can see, the C-section itself cost over $6,500  and the cost of my private hospital room was over $1,000 per night, in addition to a long list of other charges for myself and my daughter.

Thankfully I only had to pay the $350 per night copay as promised, which meant a total of $1,200.00 for four nights. I thought that was pretty reasonable, all things considered.  It made stop and think how blessed I was to have insurance that covered nearly everything. It was shocking to realize that many hard working people in America with health insurance, end up with giant bills from the birth of their child for treatment that they thought would be covered by insurance. Our healthcare system is such a mess that the only way many people can afford to have a baby  is to get into debt and then try to pay it off gradually. What a joke!


  1. It really makes you think about the cost of having a child in America. we here in uk are truly blessed!

  2. Oh yes the NHS system in UK is so much better!!

  3. Oh girl, reminds me of our experience. In our case they actually wrongly charged us for a C-section when I had a natural delivery and then completely miscalculated our insurance contribution. Thankfully, my husband was super diligent and roughed them up a bit to finally get a fair bill. So in addition to being ridiculously expensive, these bills are not even always accurate...what a joke!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Enyonam! Glad to hear your husband eventually got that straightened out!