U.S. mothers pay far more for maternity services than women in other countries, and costs have increased 49 percent in 6 years.
Parent or not, you probably know that raising a kid is expensive. A quick estimate at BabyCenter.com shows it can easily cost $240,000 to raise a child from birth to college degree.
Pregnancy alone can be an enormous cost. In fact, the U.S. is the most expensive place to deliver a baby, The New York Times says.
The cost insurance companies pay for conventional delivery rose 49 percent from 2004 to 2010, the Times says, and was $9,775 on average in 2012. The average out-of-pocket cost for patients was $3,400. Two decades earlier it was zero.
“In most other developed countries, comprehensive maternity care is free or cheap for all,” the Times says. The average actual cost for conventional birth tops out near $4,000 in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, although new parents aren’t billed for that.
Even though they pay more, American women get booted out of the hospital a day or two after birth. Elsewhere, women stay for a week to recover and learn to breast-feed, the Times says.
The story also described several new mothers’ encounters with the U.S. health care system. Here’s what a married professional woman whose health plan didn’t include maternity found out:
When she became pregnant, Ms. [Renée] Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.”
Throughout her pregnancy she had to research and haggle over every health care service. “I feel like I’m in a used-car lot,” Martin told the Times. She had yet to get the final bill.
Let’s hear from the moms and expecting mothers: Have you been surprised by the costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth? Aside from being incredibly high, have they been unfair? Share your experience on our Facebook page.