When you live in an expensive city, it turns out everything from renting an apartment to eating out and even having a baby costs more money. That's what a new study conducted by healthcare information company Castlight Health found when it looked at the 30 largest U.S. metro areas, and ranked how expensive it is to have both routine vaginal and C-section deliveries. Spoiler alert: It's very expensive.
I would have guessed New York City would be the most costly place to pop out a baby, but that's probably because I'm an East Coast girl. In fact, Sacramento and San Francisco are the first and second priciest cities to give birth, according to the study. In California's capitol city, it costs on average $15,420 for a vaginal delivery. In San Francisco you will spend $15,204 on average.
Interestingly, Minneapolis ranked #3, but it still costs you $4,000 less there. Looking for a "bargain birth?" Have your baby in Kansas City, where a vaginal delivery costs a relatively paltry $6,075.
If you end up having a C-section, hold on to your wallet! In Sacramento, this procedure will cost about $27,067. Head to Pittsburgh for a C-section that costs nearly four times less.
To estimate the costs for both kinds of deliveries, researchers looked at private health insurance claims. Perhaps most interestingly, they found that the cost of giving birth can vary widely, even in the same city, which is beyond perplexing.
In a press release, Kristin Torres Mowat, a Castlight senior vice president, said, "It's a black box when it comes to pricing in health care. There is not a rational explanation for this kind of variation for similar procedures in the same geography. It highlights how inefficient the health care market is."
"The birth of a child is such a special time," she continued. "The fact that these huge price differences exists for maternity care is deplorable. The price variances seen in both routine and cesarean deliveries reflect the larger systemic problems in our nations' healthcare system,"
It's worth noting that this study is by no means suggesting that a more expensive birth equals a higher quality birth. "As consumers, we assume that the highest cost is going to be the best quality, but that is not true in health care," Mowat said.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.