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Having A Baby Costs HOW MUCH?! (Tips On How To Minimize Your Bill)

Be aware of hospital costs!

I was reading Digital Molly’s post, An Epidural Costs HOW MUCH and got to chuckling at the insanity of it all. So I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me before I went to the hospital to have my first baby. Listen up.

Are you ready?

Here goes: The hospital is like the airport. They will charge you $25.99 for a pair of scissors. They will charge your $15.99 for a sandwich. Instead of a $7 beer they offer a $7 Hydrocodone pill.

Those of you who’ve had babies, have you ever looked at your itemized bill?

Just this morning I was on the phone with the the billing department of the hospital at which I delivered Henry. I was consolidating the accounts they started when I gave birth.

In case you’ve never done this before, here’s the deal. There is an account for you, the mama, and an account for your baby. There is also a separate account from an entirely different company that the anesthesiologist works for. At least that’s how my ordeal went. So, to get this straight – you owe the hospital for you, your baby, the anesthesiologist (if you get an epidural) and don’t forget your OB-GYN and your pediatrician.

Hopefully you’ve been paying your OB-GYN’s bill at each visit so you don’t get hit with the entire sum at once. The pediatrician’s bill isn’t overwhelming, but let’s run down a few of the items the hospital charges for and how much they charge, shall we?

My epidural cost $1,220. My insurance paid $576 and I owe $644
I think my OB-GYN charged something like $3,000 and I paid 20% of that by paying a little bit at each appointment.
I still haven’t received the entire hospital bill for Henry but I believe that after insurance I owe something like $1,198.
The bill for me totals $5,272. Insurance paid $4,500 and I owe $750
In total I owe LDS hospital $1,650 and the anesthesiologist $644. That’s not counting the pediatrician and the OB-GYN. So overall I’d estimate having Henry cost me $2,500 and that’s with great insurance.

Now, for the fun part. I took a look at my itemized bill just to see what costs the most during my hospital stay. Check this out:

Daily room charge – $800 (They also charged Henry $283 which is why we only stayed one night and then got the hell out. My advice – leave as soon as you can!)
Oxytocin – $225 (I was induced)
Vaginal Delivery – $877
Recovery per hour – $404 (They left us in the delivery room for two hours. Had I known I was being charged $200 an hour I would’ve asked to be moved to my regular room! Again, one of those little things they neglect telling you.)
1 Hydrocodone – $6.67 (Swear to God!)
1 Ibuprofin – $6.25 (I had a bunch of these so it adds up)
Tray: Epidural – $225 (This isn’t the actual anesthesiologist’s bill so then, what? This is the tray to prepare the epidural?)
Double Breast Pump – $92 (Super annoyed by this charge, see below for the reason)

There are a whole bunch of nursing charges and labor charges and some other medical stuff I don’t really understand but whatever. What I really want you to know is what I wish someone would’ve told me before I went in to have my first child. First, the laws differ from state to state but generally, you can leave the hospital after twelve hours. Just ask your doctor how long you’re required to stay after giving birth. I think I stayed in the hospital for three nights with Violet even though I felt well enough to go home after the second day, I just thought that’s how it went. Remember, the room charge, just for me, is $800 not to mention another $200 for Violet. My advice: if you feel good enough, go home! Remember, people give birth all the time and wouldn’t you rather be at home anyway? Don’t be scared. If you and the baby are doing fine it should be no problem. Of course, if you don’t feel right, or had a c-section or any number of other things, stay as long as you need to. What we’re trying to do here is avoid unnecessary charges.

Another thing. Remember you’re in a hospital where they are charging you for EVERYTHING. That Ibuprofin you asked for? Seven bucks. Bring your own Ibuprofin. Also, sometimes nurses will offer you things and you kind of forget that the thing they’re so generously offering you is going to cost you.

For example: I was trying to breastfeed Henry late one night and was having trouble getting him to latch. I mentioned to a nurse that I was worried he might be hungry. I wasn’t that concerned, I knew he was fine, but she immediately offered to get me a breast pump so I could try and pump into a bottle and see if he’d take that. I agreed and guess what? There that pump is on my bill for nearly $100. I have a pump at home! I could’ve sent my husband to get that if I really wanted to pump, instead I Just automatically accepted someone offering me something without reminding myself it wasn’t for free.

One more thing. Ask your hospital how they do meals. Is it a part of the room charge? In addition to the room charge? If it’s a part of the room charge, order up, girlfriend. If it’s in addition to the room charge, don’t go nuts.

I’m telling you what – aside from that little slip-up in accepting the breast pump offer – Serge and I were hyper aware of what we were being offered and how much it would ultimately cost us. I don’t know if it was due to us being vigilant or some other expense that was beyond our control but Henry’s birth cost about a grand less than Violet’s.

And listen, I don’t want you to think I’m encouraging you not to take full advantage of medical care, just remember that they’re most definitely a business and everything they’re so graciously doing or offering to bring you is going to cost you. Some things are beyond your control but many things are and you should be aware of that because it all adds up fast and the last thing you need while dealing with a newborn is a shockingly high hospital bill… although it’ll probably blow your mind anyway. I’d estimate the average hospital bill for a vaginal birth with no complications is around $10,000 before insurance steps in.

What has been your experience with pregnancy and birth-related bills? Do you have any insight into avoiding unnecessary hospital charges? Ask your friends. We could turn the comments section into an awesome list for women who’ve never given birth before. So, what would you tell a first-time mom about your experience in the hospital? What does she absolutely need to know?

Related links on Babble:

• Are We Ready for a Baby? 11 signs you’re primed for parenthood

Maternal Health Care in America: Ina May Gaskin’s vision for the future

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to pack in your most important overnight bag

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