The Most and Least Expensive Cities in the United States to Give Birth

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A new study reveals the vast difference in costs for having a baby depending on your location -- and says the numbers point to a serious problem with our health care system.

It’s hardly a secret that raising a child today is darn expensive. (Seriously, I feel like a human ATM sometimes). Just the initial cost of bringing that tiny bundle of joy into the world can be a rude awakening.

I have two children — ages 3 and 6 — and it seemed like as soon as I got them home from the hospital, the medical bills started pouring in.

Hello, baby! Goodbye, money.

But the size of that initial bill varies widely from place to place (even within the same city), according to a new study of those costs in the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas by health care information company Castlight Health.

In those cities across the United States, the cost of giving birth averages $8,775 for a routine vaginal birth and $11,525 for a cesarean section. But Castlight says birth costs can be “shockingly higher” in places like Sacramento and San Francisco, where you’re limited in your health care choices as a result of provider consolidation.

In the cheapest city of the 30 to deliver a baby by C-section — Pittsburgh, for just under $7,000 — the cost is about one-fourth that of a C-section delivery in Sacramento, where the bill is more than $27,000 on average.

“The birth of a child is such a special time. 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 nation’s health care system,” Kristin Torres Mowat, senior vice president of Plan Development and Data Operations at Castlight Health, said in a statement.

Castlight says these are the top five most expensive metro areas for a routine vaginal delivery:

  • Sacramento: $15,420
  • San Francisco: $15,204
  • Minneapolis: $11,527
  • Philadelphia: $11,340
  • Portland, Oregon: $11,043

These are the cheapest cities for a routine vaginal delivery:

  • Kansas City, Missouri: $6,075
  • Pittsburgh: $6,245
  • St. Louis: $6,716
  • Phoenix: $7,094
  • San Antonio: $7,469

For babies delivered by C-section, these are the most expensive of the 30 cities studied:

  • Sacramento: $27,067
  • San Francisco: $21,799
  • Portland, Oregon: $18,066
  • Minneapolis: $17,705
  • San Diego: $16,810

These are the five cheapest cities to deliver a baby via C-section:

  • Pittsburgh: $6,891
  • Kansas City: $8,032
  • St. Louis: $8,323
  • Cleveland: $8,772
  • Atlanta: $9,424

It’s important to note that the new parents won’t necessarily have to pay the amount listed. The costs are the total of what the employee and employer would pay, Castlight says.

The “Costliest Babies” study is based on private health insurance claims and includes prenatal office visits, required ultrasounds, delivery, hospital stay and one visit after delivery. Tests, elective ultrasounds, imaging, medicines and anesthesia are not included.

Check out “The Most and Least Expensive States to Raise a Family.”

Are you surprised by how much delivery costs vary across the nation? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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