In a study of over 109,000 hospitals across the United States, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco looked at cost data for hospital deliveries—all uncomplicated vaginal deliveries and simple Cesarean section births—involving women with private health insurance. What they discovered about the real cost of having a baby was surprising.
The study reveals that these hospitals charged more when they were a a) located in areas with higher costs of living, b) were for-profit institutions, or c) had a patient population with severe illnesses. And using one state (California) as an example, showed a wild variation in hard costs.
In California, hospital charges for vaginal deliveries went from a low of approximately $3296 to a high of over $37,000. Charges for c-section deliveries were equally cost-diverse, with a low average of $8312 to a high of nearly $71,000.
A 2013 survey of more than 2500 doctors found that most physicians don't believe that they have a primary responsibility for controlling health care costs, but the huge fluctuations in what hospitals charge for the same services to similar patients points out one of the biggest problems plaguing healthcare today. It's "buyer beware" and incumbent on each individual to research the probable charges before selecting the hospital where their baby will be delivered.
Today an increasing number of families have high-deductible insurance plans, and this puts extra pressure on them at a time when out-of-pocket payments on health care are continuing to rise. A little due diligence in determining the costs of the delivery well in advance can pay of in financial savings.