What to Expect: Hospital Birth Costs

Type of Birth

Vaginal delivery or cesarean section -- that is the question. The answer could mean an average difference of $1,900 to $2,600 in your hospital bill. Vaginal births, on average, cost $2,600 without complications, and C-sections cost $4,500, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Vaginal deliveries account for about 7 in 10 childbirths, and C-sections for about 3 in 10, according to the Project.

A C-section is a major operation that involves anesthesia, longer hospital stays, and higher instances of morbidity and mortality, says Toni Stern, M.D., Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Coney Island Hospital. All of these mean more resources used -- and more dollars spent.

However, vaginal delivery with complications requiring an operating room procedure has the highest average price tag of any type of birth, costing parents (and their insurance companies) an average of $6,900, nearly double the average cost per stay for all types of delivery, according to the Project.

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