9 Women Share Exactly How Much It Cost Them to Give Birth
I almost had a nervous breakdown after my son was born, and it wasn’t due to the new mom’s anxiety. Despite having “excellent” health insurance, my husband and I received over $5,000 in hospital bills.
As if the price tag wasn’t painful enough, the bills leaked out over the course of nine months. we’d rush to pay a big bill and bam, another one came in the mail that was due in two weeks.
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I tried to fight some of the more outrageous ones, like the $800 “blood” bill, since I never had a blood transfusion. the hospital administrator laughed at me: she told me that she could never successfully get rid of the charge, that we were billed because the hospital had blood “in case” I needed it…but she hadn’t. t.
We had been saving for months to lessen the financial blow of my maternity leave and new baby expenses. that money ran out in a month, all because of hospital bills. he was already exhausted from learning how to keep a baby alive, and the unexpected financial stress didn’t help.
Unfortunately, my frustration is not uncommon. Countless families have been through the same situation. while some women have tiny hospital bills after giving birth, they seem to be in the minority.
Do you plan to have a child one day or do you just want to see how badly you had it compared to other women? Check out hospital bills below for several women across the country, all of whom were insured, and then get expert insights on how you can keep costs in check when you give birth.
amy, brooklyn, new yorktotal cost: $6285what happened: attempted natural childbirth, but had to undergo emergency c- sectionin her own words: “after the birth, the bills started coming fast and furious. i tried to control them and send them to the insurance companies. it seemed like everyone at the hospital sent a bill separately which made it all even more difficult to control i have come to expect hospitals to charge ridiculous amounts in undecipherable bills for unrequested services i get very nervous when i get multiple bills for the same procedure because it is so difficult figure out what’s what, and I’m always worried about being charged twice as much for things. I should be more mindful and careful about it, but I wasn’t in a position to at the time. Honestly, I probably paid more than I owed because I didn’t I took the you time to keep track of things. I think the whole system needs to be overhauled and pricing needs to be more transparent.”
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ce, winchester, virginiatotal cost: $52what happened: no birth complications and had an epidural in her own words: “I had a great pregnancy and delivery, although the little man was stressed at the end. He couldn’t breathe for four minutes after birth, and they had to do CPR to get it back. it was monitored in daycare but other than that everything was smooth sailing. our insurance is good. we knew the cost would be low, but we didn’t know it would be this low. love our insurance!”
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katie, providence, rhode islandtotal cost: $5,000what happened: no delivery complications and had an epiduralat her own words: “we were a little shocked at the costs when I gave birth to my second child because some things weren’t covered. seeing how much the hospital charged for things was crazy. our insurance year was renewed in half of my pregnancy, so the deductible started all over again. I know it should have been obvious, but we hadn’t thought about it! The really crazy thing is that we had different insurance with our first child and paid almost nothing, even though that our children were born in the same hospital.”
See what these moms had to say about how their daughters changed their lives:
nora, unionville, pennsylvaniatotal cost: $6,000what happened:had a scheduled c-sectionin her own words:“I hate insurance. It’s very confusing. I had a C-section, which added more costs and I had to stay in the hospital two days after giving birth. Some of the bills were in my name, and some were in my name. of my baby. the cost was not a surprise. i called my insurance company when i found out i was going to have a c-section, just to make sure we were covered. i had our son in may and we settled on a new house to end of June, so we made a payment plan for the hospital bills. we finished paying everything in November. it’s crazy, the cost of having children.”
lindsay, brooklyn, new yorktotal cost: $2000what happened: had a natural birth in a hospital with a midwifein her own words: “I was shocked and frustrated at the cost. the midwife practice that was recommended to me, because they do all their births in a hospital, didn’t accept any insurance at the time. so we paid from our After our baby was born, happy and healthy, we filed an insurance claim but still owed $2,000.
“I stayed in the hospital for less than 24 hours. I didn’t take any medication. But because I opted for a ‘natural’ or medication-free birth, I paid much more than many of my friends who were covered by insurance up front. And she used a lot of more health services, including many more drugs and diagnostic tools, and had much longer hospital stays.”
haley, washington, d.c.total cost: $0reduction: 30 hours of labor, three hours of pushing and had a c-section unplannedin her own words: “I remember wondering what the bill would be like in the days and weeks after my ordeal of childbirth. I went through the whole thing: epidural, pitocin [a drug that is uses to boost labor], water breaking, epidural augmentation, popsicles, pushing, pushing and more pushing, and all of that was followed by surgery and a four night hospital stay! out of pocket we had to pay was the difference between a private room and a shared room [$1,200 for a four night stay]! I kept waiting for more bills to come but they never came. I guess I have excellent insurance coverage.”
julie, detroit, michigantotal cost: $19.99what happened: induced due to preeclampsia and had an epiduralin her my own words: “the original cost was $19,000, but my military health care covered everything but $19.99. I’ve heard of tons of people who have to pay a lot of money to have babies. I know I’m very lucky with my health insurance.”
total cost:what decreased:in your own words:
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laura, lewes, delaware $6,000 with no complications and had an epidural”our bill just from the OB was about $3,000, that doesn’t take into account the hospital or anesthesiologist fees. we definitely expected that was high because our insurance isn’t the best but our hospital bills never stopped it was constant and seemed endless what we didn’t think about is you start having bills for the baby too for the next pregnancy we’re putting money into our hsa to help.”
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There’s a reason it’s often so expensive to give birth: Childbirth is one of the most expensive payouts for insurance companies, and more than 300,000 American women give birth each month, says health care expert sarah o’leary, physician, founder of exhale health care advocates, a national consumer health care advocate. Since insurance companies make money by taking more than they pay, their clients often have to bear some, or much, of the financial burden.
o’leary points out that each hospital independently decides how much a test, procedure, medication, and even a blanket costs. she says this charging system often results in “grossly inflated” costs, and they can vary from hospital to hospital, even if she’s only seeing those in the same neighborhood. “Because insurance companies have negotiated rates with their preferred hospitals, this may not affect us,” he says, “but patients can be in danger when insurers don’t cover certain inflated costs in whole or in part.”
Also concerning: According to a 2009 University of Minnesota study, 30 to 40 percent of all medical bills contain errors.
While the cost of giving birth is determined by a number of factors, including your insurance level, deductible, what the hospital charges, and whether the hospital and care providers are in-network, it is It’s possible to keep high bills at bay, says health care expert Caitlin Donovan, director of the National Patient Advocacy Foundation.
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First, call the hospital where you plan to give birth and ask if they are in your network. Most people don’t realize this, but you may not be in network at the hospital where you chose to deliver, even though your doctor is. “Some neonatal intensive care units (NICs) may be contracted out by the hospital, so if your child ends up in the NICU, he may not be covered either,” she says. Not only that, if you plan on getting an epidural, your insurance may not cover the anesthesiologist. And they’re “infamous” for being off the grid, Donovan says. he also recommends asking about it during the phone call.
Next, create a birth plan that includes what tests you may or may not want to have during labor. “A lot of times, your health care provider will push you to have a lot of tests, and that’s usually going to cost extra,” she says. “We have a habit of saying ‘yes,’ even when it’s not medically necessary.”
You should also make that plan clear to doctors and hospital staff; let them know you want to be told about any tests or procedures that aren’t covered by your insurance and/or aren’t medically necessary, o’leary says.