The Health Care Costs of Having a Baby

Over the past few weeks since Lillian’s arrival, the medical bills have been slowly trickling in, chock full of fees from the hospital, doctors, specialists, and labs. How much does it actually cost to give birth in the United States these days?

To answer that question, I thought it would be interesting to tally up the costs of everything from my prenatal care to Lillian’s pediatrician visits. Be warned that this post will contain some large numbers. In fact, if you’re pregnant right now, or thinking of becoming pregnant, you might want to stop reading this so as to avoid a heart attack. Just a fair warning.

Okay. Anyway. For your entertainment and horror, here are the totals:

Prenatal Care Appointments $10,717.79
Hospital (Me) $24,017.40
Hospital (Lillian) $3,271.75
Lillian’s Pediatrician Appointments (so far) $743.00
Total Medical Bills $38,749.94

So yeah… Almost forty thousand dollars worth of medical bills. And keep in mind that this wasn’t even a high-risk pregnancy or a caesarean delivery — Lillian’s birth was about the smoothest, complication-free thing that anyone could hope for. So it kind of makes my head spin to think about it. How can two days in the hospital be worth more than our car? How can anything cost this much?

Right now I’m just thanking our lucky stars that we have health insurance. After everything covered by our BlueCross BlueShield PPO — which seems to be about the closest thing to a gold-plated Cadillac that a working-class American can hope to get in the health care department — we’re on the hook for only $1,381.26 of that bankruptcy-incuding total.

(It feels weird to say that. Only $1,381.26. As if we’re billionaires or won the lottery or something. But according to this article, even with an “uninsured patient” discount, you could easily expect to pay ten times that without health insurance. So from that perspective, we really dodged a bullet.)

Anyway, I assume this sort of thing will vary from state to state and hospital to hospital, but there you have it. One random blogger’s health care costs for having a baby in 2011.

I’d be curious to hear from anyone else who’s had experience with the maternity ward, or with hospital / medical bills in general. Don’t the charges just seem unbelievably, outrageously, preposterously high? I have some opinions on the current state of our health care system, but I probably shouldn’t even get started on that…

Money image from here.

9 Comments

  1. Yes, it’s outrageous! When Bill was in the hospital this last time, it was $19,000 without insurance just for room and board! That’s not counting the doctors’ fees, blood work, and tests!!! A speech therapist and physical therapist came in, basically just said hi, and charged $100 each. There is no way all that should cost that much. Like Bill says, though, we have to pay for the uninsured person who comes into the ER for treatment. I guess the medical profession has to make its money somehow. :(

    I’m sure we have the same idea about the health care system, but this is probably not the right place to talk about it. Love you all!!!

  2. Yeah, those huge charges for tiny amounts of a doctor’s time seem particularly insane. I don’t think the obstetrician spent more than an hour or so in our room for the delivery, and that bill alone was around $5,000.00.

  3. When Dave was born back in 1955, we had no health insurance. Since Bill worked at the hospital, they reduced our bill to $550. The doctor charged us only $250. Though I almost died from adrenalin insufficiency (long labor), there were no specialists needed. Back in the good old days!

  4. yowsers! When I had Geoffrey, we had no insurance, and the hospital bill was about $5000. I paid $50 upon leaving, and signed up to pay $25 a month, but luckily, a nurse applied to an “indigent fund” the county had, which wasn’t tapped out yet, so I never had to pay the monthly charge. I did still have to pay all the doctor and lab fees as they came in though.

    I don’t blame the doctors for the prices, some of it has to do with how litigious our society is – when dad was trying to sell ultrasound equipment, a doctor told him he could afford the gear, but not the hike in malpractice insurance premiums ($50,000 a year back 20 years or more ago)!

  5. Very true about the malpractice costs, and I seem to recall hearing that the situation is particularly bad for obstetricians. I guess that’s yet another problem area in our health care system…

  6. Oh my!!! Sure glad I live in Canada. I can only imagine what my costs wouls have been as I had to see a lot of specialist and then the NICU for one son for 5 days… it sends a shutter though me.
    Congrat’s on the baby she is lovely. Our lodest granddaughter’s name is Lily and today is her birthday.

  7. Yikes, Cathy! I’m glad everything went well in the end. Here that’s the sort of thing that could cause you real financial troubles even with insurance. This is probably partially responsible for those high malpractice costs — I think some folks faces with high bills from complications need to make someone else pay for it…

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