Reddit Thread Shows the Overwhelming Cost of Childbirth

Giving birth in the U.S. isn't cheap—but how much you pay out of pocket will vary, as one Reddit thread highlights.

You likely know raising a baby can be expensive. The little one needs food, clothes, and so many diapers—and that's only the beginning of many new caregivers' lists.

But birthing a child can cost thousands. The costs vary based on the state, type of birth, and health of birther and baby. C-sections cost more than vaginal deliveries and longer stays, such as time in the NICU, can result in more bills. But generally, vaginal deliveries cost $5,000 to $11,000, and C-sections range from $7,500 to $14,500 in most states, according to data from Fair Health.

Insurance may offset costs.

One pregnant Redditor's OB/GYN just asked for what seems like a hefty down payment, and they're wondering if that's normal.

"I'm curious to what others will be, or have paid to have a child in the United States," wrote u/marshmellowwww in the Beyond the Bump subreddit. "My OB wants a down payment of $3200, and the hospital has yet to give me an estimate."

Nearly 900 Redditors have commented in less than a day, and the answers are all over the place.

Some were very low, and health insurance played a significant role.

"$0 for pregnancy care [and] delivery because my husband's employer offers great health insurance. But that is far from normal in the U.S.," wrote one Redditor.

It's certainly not normal. But it's wonderful this poster's husband has such great benefits—and a shame other people don't. Another poster also benefited from health insurance.

"$710 for delivery and [two]-day stay at [the] hospital to make sure baby was OK," wrote the top commenter. That's well below the average, but the commenter shared the reason: "My dad has really good insurance… [I] turned 26 in September (had my baby in February)."

Under the Affordable Care Act, adult children can stay on a parent's insurance until they turn 26. The person has since switched to insurance through their job.

Other posters shared the grand total, plus what they paid.

"$30k for my stay ([four] days) and my son's NICU stay for [six] days, including his [specialty] ambulance ride to the NICU ($1,400 for a 1.5-mile ride). We only paid a total of $1k out of pocket for our copays ($500 each). We are fortunate to have great insurance coverage," one person said.

"Mine was $53,000 for induction, emergency c-section, and [eight]-day stay for preeclampsia. My share was a little over $2K," wrote another.

Doctors holding just delivered baby

But others don't have good coverage, and their bills were much higher.

"$6,000 before I met my out-of-pocket max, probably another grand on whatever insurance didn't cover," one Redditor replied in part.

"6-7K with my son with so/so insurance [and] just around $1,500 with amazing insurance," said another.

And then there was this one.

"I paid a total of $17,500, but for the twin C-Section and one-week NICU stay, it was about $500,000 total. I was in the hospital one day and took one home with me while one stayed a week. I received bills for a year from the hospital, labs, anesthesiologist, etc.," said another.

That number is certainly eye-popping. But another mom's story recently grabbed headlines—and mom didn't even make it to the hospital to deliver. Bisi Bennett's son, Dorian, was born in a car as her husband tried to rush her to the hospital last year. The baby was breech and spent two months in the NICU.

Bennet's hospital was in-network, but her grand total came to $660,553—and her insurance company said she was on the hook for $550,124. The kicker? They kindly offered a payment plan of $45,843 a month for 12 months.

If that sounds outrageous, it's because it is. It was also wrong. Part of the problem was that Bennet's employer switched insurance in the middle of Dorian's hospital stay, and the hospital billed both insurance companies for the entire stay. Bennet had to fight through a ton of red tape over the next several months. But eventually, she wound up paying $300 out of pocket.

Whew. Bennet's story highlights how difficult it can be to navigate insurance, and all of the notice in the world couldn't have prepared her to navigate delivering her baby in the car, a long NICU stay, and an insurance switch in the middle of it all.

But parents-to-be can get an idea of hospital costs in their state using Fair Health's free tool. Even if things don't go according to plan, knowing the state average can help people flag bills that seem too high.

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