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Cost of Childbirth in America – How Does it Impact You?

By AngEngland |

Still saving up for your next child?

I was talking to a guy the other day who had two children. In his culture larger families are quite common and I asked if he thought they would have more children later. He said, “No – we are still paying off our second child.”

Wow! Four years, almost five years later and they are still paying for the birth. I expressed some shock over what he told me and he shared more. Her surgical birth in big-city Texas cost $48,727 total. He knew the exact number.

I know the exact number of what we paid to our midwives as well. $2800 because we pay in full by week 36. And that is total prenatal, postpartum and birth care care except for any lab work or ultrasounds we choose to have. I knew that birth costs varied a great deal, and that the average costs had risen quite a bit in the last decade, but I didn’t realize how much until I started investigating.

According to Childbirth Connection’s recent recap of numbers collected by U.S Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality the average cost of childbirth in America rose between 2-8% from 2007-2008 and another 8-16% from 2008-2009. See the Average Charges for Childbirth slide to see costs broken down by type of birth and place of birth. Note that these costs do not reflect newborn care, prenatal care or any anesthesia charges (a guaranteed with C-Section births). The greatest increases came with the cost of surgical births!

I know that the midwives I use see patients for prenatal care that intend to deliver in a hospital, and sometimes charge on a sliding scale for maternity care only, just to make sure these uninsured are being provided with high-quality care they can “afford”. For us the decision to pay our midwife out-of-pocket wasn’t a financial one, but the financial savings were certainly an added bonus. What about you?

Did cost of childbirth, delivery and prenatal care impact your choices of birth place?

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About AngEngland

angengland

AngEngland

Ang England is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, massage therapist and founder of the DIY website, Untrained Housewife. She is a former home decor and DIY contributor to Babble.

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0 thoughts on “Cost of Childbirth in America – How Does it Impact You?

  1. Emily says:

    I am always so shocked by when I hear that insured people in the US have to PAY for their birth costs. I’m sorry – what is the point of insurance, again?

    I am a US american living in Germany and here, all our birth costs are covered. Prenatal care, midwife care pre- and during birth, and postnatal home visits by midwives. Regardless of the type of birth you have (even C-section). Even my birth prep course and my prenatal yoga are covered 70%.

    I seriously can’t fathom how americans can afford to have a baby, what with the cost of the BIRTH compounding the cost of the baby itself, and little or no paid maternity leave.

    All I have to say, is, hats off to you! How do you do it!?

  2. Mary B. says:

    I’m Canadian, and those numbers shock and disturb me. I live in Ontario, where I have the option of receiving care from our GP, from midwives, or from an OBGYN. We went with the midwives…and I don’t have to pay a cent. Home or hospital birth (and hopefully we will soon see birthing centres in my province), it’s covered. Post-natal care? Covered. I can’t fathom having to pay to give birth. Like Emily above, how do you do it? I really don’t understand.

  3. Megan says:

    I planned to give birth in a birthing center, attended by midwives. I’d already paid the whole $4800 bill months before my due date. Unfortunately, I had some pretty serious complications that landed us in the hospital with a c-section. My affordable, natural birth quickly turned into a very unnatural $20,000 hospital bill. I haven’t even seen the doctors bill, yet! Luckily, since it was a complication of pregnancy, my insurance will cover it, but it’s still a lot of additional expense with the insurance deductible.

  4. AngEngland says:

    @Emily – Most insurance companies have a yearly deductible which you have to pay before the coverage kicks in (Ours is $1000 per person or $3000 for the whole family) and THEN coverage is usually an 80/20 or 70/30 split for most good insurances. Meaning they pay 80 or 70% of the bills leaving the other 20-30% for us to pay. For US it was actually cheaper to pay the midwife cash (not always covered by insurance) than to pay the deductible and 20-30% amount.

    @Megan – That’s a fear of mine every pregnancy as well. Our midwives referral rate is just under 10% (ie just less than 10 out of every 100 women who start care with them will be referred to a doctor for whatever reason) with a transfer rate of less than 2% but it’s still something I think every pregnant woman thinks about. Medical emergencies – whether in pregnancy or outside of pregnancy – can greatly impact family finances!

  5. AngEngland says:

    @MaryB – I read somewhere that we would save between 5-10 BILLION dollars a year in maternity health care costs nation wide just by legalizing and allowing midwives permissions in hospitals. In my state midwives aren’t illegal but only about a half dozen hospitals have them on staff. So for the vast majority of women who WANT a midwife-attended birth the options are very, very limited. Often homebirth is the only option or a birth center if you’re fortunate to have one close by.

    In Tennessee, for example, midwifery is “illegal” so if you want a midwife attended birth your options are 1-move, 2-find a midwife who will come to your home knowing that if you have to transfer, she can’t come with you or she’ll be arrested 3-go see a doctor against your will. Without the competition, Tennessee is one of the states with a higher cost of care. No surprise there.

    The truth is America pretty much sucks when it comes to maternity care. Sad but true. That’s why I will pay extra if needed to take control of my own birth situation but for many women that’s not an option.

  6. Erica Mueller says:

    For our first, cost was definitely one of the deciding factors. The other was referrals. We got very good recommendations for a Dr and hospital 45 minutes away. The care happened to be half what it would be in our own town, so we went that route. Our experience was so good that we returned there for our second birth. We also went back to the same town and hospital when my husband needed a surgery…

    While I would never make a medical decision based solely on cost, it can play a huge part when you have zero insurance…

  7. Lee says:

    Obstetrics carries some of the highest liability of any medical specialty. As of 2003 ACOG reported that one in seven of its fellows left the obstetric side of their practice due to malpractice insurance costs, now that number is approx. one in five. Couple that with fewer new doctors choosing obstetrics as their specialty. Until tort reform is addressed maternal health care costs will continue to skyrocket.

  8. Sandra says:

    @Emily
    Not just in Germany. I’m a German living in the UK and here everything is covered. All antenatal appointments, even if you need to see a specialist, various birthing options as well the postnatal care for mum and baby.

  9. Michele says:

    We were unprepared. I’m uninsured, and we are typical middle class. I don’t qualify for any type of assistance. 24 weeks pregnant and have spent $4000 on OB alone. That’s just for Global care, no complications. I’ll have to work out a payment plan with the hospital and don’t even want to think about the cost of the medically necessary C-section I’ll be having. It’s a shame that there’s no other help available for birthing in this country.

  10. JGordonNo1Fan says:

    Think of all the poor welfare families that keep having babies. Who pays for them? We do!!!

  11. Tania says:

    After graduating college I was so unlucky out in the job field that it actually ended up helping me out with my childbirth costs. I found out I was pregnant a few weeks after getting laid off. I qualified for Medi-Cal to cover all the costs of my pregnancy. I felt a little awkward applying for the help at first. Until I read the qualifications to apply. Illegal immigrants can get full assistance with a pregnancy! I’m a US citizen that tried to do everything right. I worked full time while going to college full time. I paid my taxes. And I was pregnant with my first child at the age of 25. I’ve never been on welfare and don’t plan to be. I’m the kind of person that the help was intended for. And I’m grateful for it.

  12. charmedvalerie says:

    I was pretty much oblivious to the costs that most people pay for maternity care until after I had my first child. I gave birth in a birth center so my out-of-pocket was about $300 for prenatal/postpartum/delivery (awesome insurance at the time). It was only after I joined a mom’s group that I learned what people pay for more medical births. This time we’re paying at least $1,700 out of pocket which is less than half of the total birth center fees.

  13. ariela says:

    Wow. This post is a shocking reminder of how broken the health care system is in the US. I’m an American expat living in Australia and even though I don’t yet have permanent residency here (which would give me access to Medicare, the subsidised health care system here), I pay for very reasonably priced private insurance ($70 per month for myself, my husband and any children we may have) which gives me access to equivalent care to Medicare. Women here actually have trouble choosing between independent homebirth midwife for ($3000-$5000) out of pocket or birthing in a public hospital where it would be absolutely free. I plan to birth at home, but its nice to know that if for some reason I end up in hospital there won’t be a huge bill to pay afterwards!

  14. silky04 says:

    The rising cost of health-care facilities in U.S.A has impacted the parents in various ways but the interesting thing is that they had chosen a better way to live,survive and enjoy parenthood and that is yoga.
    http://www.divinewellness.com/yoga/applications-of-yoga/yoga-for-women/yoga-for-pregnant-women/

  15. bessydixon355 says:

    Very true that major brands do give out samples on their products, search online for “123 Samples” we just got ours today. You wont need CC.

  16. Amy B. says:

    With both of my pregnancies, I tried my darndest to move back to the UK, but neither time were we able to make the job transfers work. It is shameful that a country like ours, where so many people claim to be all about “family values,” makes caring for mothers and children one of the lowest priorities.

    Both times we were lucky to have insurance, and since my pregnancies and births were completely normal and easy, our costs were relatively low (about $5000 each). The only scary thing was when we moved during the 6th month of my first pregnancy, we moved to an area with an OBGYN shortage, and I went six weeks without care until I found a doctor who would take new patients. And he was HORRIBLE, but better than nothing, I guess.

  17. Lauren says:

    It was never more apparent to me just how broken our medical and insurance systems are until I had a baby. I had a completely unmedicated vaginal birth and was only actually using an LDR room for a total of about an hour becaus it was our plan to arrive at the hospital late in the game. Then, my baby unexpectedly had to be placed in the NICU. This meant that all costs associated with that NICU stay were now considered by our insurance to be incurred by him as a separate person – meaning we owed TWO $3,000 deductibles. This did not include our birth prep classes, the cost of our Doula, prenatal doctors visits, lab work, ultrasounds, or the cost for me to take just 6 weeks of maternity leave. Our little guy is 15 months old, and we have just finished paying it all off.

    Meanwhile, non-U.S. citizens can go to an emergency room to have their babies and never pay a dime. What is wrong with this picture??

  18. Lauren says:

    I had a completely unmedicated vaginal birth and was only actually using an LDR room for a total of about an hour because it was our plan to arrive at the hospital late in the game. Then, my baby unexpectedly had to be placed in the NICU. This meant that all costs associated with that NICU stay were now considered by our insurance to be incurred by him as a separate person – meaning we owed TWO $3,000 deductibles. This did not include our birth prep classes, the cost of our Doula, prenatal doctors visits, lab work, ultrasounds, or the cost for me to take just 6 weeks of maternity leave. Our little guy is 15 months old, and we have just finished paying it all off.

    Meanwhile, non-U.S. citizens can go to an emergency room to have their babies and never pay a dime. What is wrong with this picture??

  19. Lauren says:

    I had a completely unmedicated vaginal, but my baby unexpectedly had to be placed in the NICU. This meant that all costs associated with that NICU stay were now considered by our insurance to be incurred by him as a separate person – meaning we owed TWO $3,000 deductibles. This did not include our birth prep classes, the cost of our Doula, prenatal doctors visits, lab work, ultrasounds, or the cost for me to take just 6 weeks of maternity leave. Our little guy is 15 months old, and we have just finished paying it all off.

    Meanwhile, non-U.S. citizens can go to an emergency room to have their babies and never pay a dime. What is wrong with this picture??

  20. Lauren says:

    I’m so sorry for the multiple posts!! It kept telling me it wasn’t posting. Please feel free to remove, Babble! Sorry!!

  21. Lauren says:

    (Okay, trying to repost only ONCE – thanks, Babble!)

    I had a completely unmedicated vaginal birth, but my baby unexpectedly had to be placed in the NICU. This meant that all costs associated with that NICU stay were now considered by our insurance to be incurred by him as a separate person – meaning we owed TWO $3,000 deductibles. This did not include our birth prep classes, the cost of our Doula, prenatal doctors visits, lab work, ultrasounds, or the cost for me to take just 6 weeks of maternity leave. Our little guy is 15 months old, and we have just finished paying it all off.

    Meanwhile, non-U.S. citizens can go to an emergency room to have their babies and never pay a dime. What is wrong with this picture??

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