Having a baby is exciting, but there’s a lot to think about. Beyond prenatal care, birthing classes, and the weird food cravings that come with pregnancy, it’s essential to plan for the costs of having a baby as well.
There are many factors that affect the cost of childbirth, only some of which you can control. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to plan ahead, make smart financial decisions, and find the right insurance policy for your family. By preparing ahead of time, you can focus on enjoying your newest family member rather than worrying about medical bills.
The Average Cost of Childbirth in the U.S.
According to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the average cost for pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care is $18,865. Women enrolled in large group health insurance plans can expect to pay $2,854 out-of-pocket on average.
Factors That Influence the Cost of Childbirth
Understanding the average cost can help, but the exact price of childbirth can vary greatly. This is because there are many different factors that influence the total cost. Let’s look at some of the most significant factors to be aware of.
According to data from the Health Care Cost Institute, the price of childbirth varies greatly depending on the state you live in. These costs are the lowest in Mississippi, with an average delivery costing $7,639. In California, the average childbirth costs $19,050, making it the most expensive state to give birth in the U.S. It’s a good idea to do some research on the state you plan on giving birth in.
Type of Birth
The type of birth you have can also influence the overall cost. Vaginal deliveries cost an average of $14,768, with $2,655 paid out-of-pocket. C-sections cost an average of $26,280, with $3,214 paid out-of-pocket.
The cost also depends on whether you have a home birth or a hospital birth. Home births are less expensive than hospital births because there are no facility costs or medication costs. According to the National Library of Medicine, the average home birth costs $4,650. Delivering at a birthing center costs an average of $8,309, so it’s still less expensive than giving birth in a hospital.
Whether you choose to give birth at home, at a birthing center, or at a hospital is much more than a financial decision, but it’s important to understand how the costs differ for each option when making your decision.
Prenatal care begins as soon as you know you’re pregnant. You can expect to visit your doctor every month for the first 28 weeks. After that, you’ll see your doctor every two weeks until your 36th week. Once you reach 37 weeks, you’ll visit your doctor once a week until delivery.
Prenatal care includes routine checkups, lab testing, and monitoring of the fetus to assess its development and potential risk.These procedures will have varying costs. However, due to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are not allowed to charge a copay or deductible for routine visits.
Hospital charges also affect the total cost of delivery — that includes care for both the mom and baby. The final bill will depend on how long the mother and baby stay overnight, any medications used, and the cost of newborn exams and care.
According to data from Premier Healthcare Database, the average hospital charges for a vaginal birth with no complications are $5,681. The average hospital charges for a c-section with no complications are $8,491.
Delivering Multiple Babies
Your costs can increase quite a bit if you’re delivering twins, and data from the Urban Institute found that the average twin birth costs $48,479. Twins are more likely to be born premature and require a stay in the NICU.
Twins are also more likely to be born via c-section. The study also found that birthing mothers of twins are more likely to experience complications like gestational hypertension and anemia, making pregnancy and birth more challenging.
If you experience complications during childbirth, this can add to your final hospital bill. For instance, an emergency c-section, excessive bleeding, and fetal distress are all issues that can arise during childbirth. One report found that childbirth complications can add an additional 20% to the total hospital bill. But keep in mind that insurance typically covers most of the cost.
How Much You Can Expect to Pay if You’re Insured
If you have health insurance, your insurance company should cover many of the costs of childbirth. How much you end up paying out-of-pocket depends on the type of policy you have.
A Preferred Provider Origination (PPO) plan offers a network of participating providers. You’ll pay less if you choose a doctor and hospital that’s in-network. PPOs tend to come with low deductibles, lower total out-of-pocket expenses, and higher monthly premiums. With a PPO, you’ll pay less out-of-pocket when you give birth.
A High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is the opposite — it comes with a high deductible and lower monthly premiums. However, the yearly total out-of-pocket expenses cannot exceed $7,050 for an individual or $14,100 for a family. With a high deductible plan, you’re more likely to get a hefty bill after you give birth.
A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is another common insurance plan. HMOs have their own network of participating providers who agree to provide their services for a specific payment. That means members can benefit from lower costs, but you may have fewer choices when choosing a provider.
During pregnancy through giving birth, a PPO or HMO will usually cost you less. With a PPO, you’ll have more options when it comes to choosing your doctor and hospital than with an HMO. Your deductible, copay, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum will all affect the cost of your pregnancy and childbirth.
It’s a good idea to contact your insurance company and request a cost summary in advance. If you have open enrollment before the baby is born, consider switching health insurance plans if needed to maximize your benefits, minimize your out-of-pocket costs and get access to your preferred healthcare providers. Keep in mind, you’ll want to add your baby to your insurance plan within 30 days of giving birth; so, choose a plan that makes sense to add a child to as well.
Other Expenses to Plan For
The delivery itself isn’t the only expense to plan for. Here are some other expenses to expect:
Fertility testing and treatments: Many people have to undergo fertility testing and possibly treatment to get pregnant, which can be very expensive. In the U.S., the average cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF) ranges from $11,000 to $12,000. And these costs are not usually covered by insurance. However, your employer might offer reimbursement.
Prenatal vitamins: Prenatal vitamins are recommended for all expectant mothers. Your insurance company may pay for them if they’re prescribed by your OB/GYN.
Childbirth classes: Childbirth classes are designed to give families accurate and up-to-date information about childbirth. You can contact your insurance company to see if they’ll pay for these classes.
Post-delivery gear: Once the baby arrives, you’ll likely need to pay for things like diapers, bottles, breastfeeding supplies, a car seat, a stroller, and potentially formula. However, your insurance company may provide breastfeeding equipment and support. Note that all insurance companies are required to pay for a rented or used breastfeeding pump
Follow-up care: You’ll need to continue to follow up with your doctor after giving birth, though this may be covered by your insurance company. In particular, breastfeeding support and contraceptive care should be covered during the postpartum period.
Planning for Parental Leave
In addition to paying for the pregnancy and childbirth, it’s important to think about how you’ll replace your income while on parental leave. Start by talking to your employer to see if they offer paid maternity/paternity leave or short-term disability to replace your income while you’re gone.
If parental leave isn’t available through your employer, some states offer paid family leave. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia all provide paid family leave.
How to Save Money on Your Pregnancy and Delivery
By planning ahead, there are ways to save money on your pregnancy and delivery. If you have insurance, make sure every facility and provider you choose is in-network if possible.
Your insurance company may cover part of your costs for an out-of-network provider, but you’ll pay less for an in-network provider. You can also use an FSA or HSA account to pay for eligible expenses like vitamins and medical equipment with tax-free dollars.
It may be a good idea to consider switching health plans before giving birth to access better benefits or lower out-of-pocket costs. However, you can only change health insurance plans during open enrollment. It’s also important to add your baby to your insurance plan within 30 days of giving birth.
In addition, be sure to check with your or your partner’s employer to see what type of benefits they might offer.
And finally, create a birthing plan that outlines the type of testing you want and whether or not you want a medicated birth. You can also choose whether you want to give birth at home, in a hospital, or at a birthing center.
Knowing what type of birth you want will make it easier to understand what these options will cost. However, the cost isn’t the only thing you should consider when developing a birthing plan. It’s also important to consider safety and the type of support you want to have during and after the birth.
As an expectant parent, it’s important to plan and prepare for your growing family by practicing good financial habits. That includes saving money ahead of time for unforeseen expenses and maintaining a monthly budget. Monarch Money can help you track your budget, build your Emergency Fund, and manage your finances.