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Childbirth Now Costs Nearly $3,000 for Insured Americans

Pregnant women incur an average of nearly $19,000 more in health care costs than women who do not give birth

THURSDAY, July 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A new analysis shows the average out-of-pocket expense for delivering a child in the United States is nearly $3,000, even for people with insurance.

To determine just how much childbirth costs, Kaiser Family Foundation researchers examined private insurance data from the IBM MarketScan Encounters Database from 2018 through 2020 and compared the average health spending for someone who gave birth versus someone who did not.

The investigators found that pregnant women incurred an average of nearly $19,000 more in health care costs than women who did not give birth. That included the cost paid for by insurance (averaged $16,011) and out-of-pocket expenses for the patient (averaged $2,854).

But that is just the cost of care for the mother. Once the child is born, it might have its own deductible. If the baby needs to go into the neonatal intensive care unit or stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, that could be its own set of costs.

“The $3,000 is shocking but it’s just the first expense, possibly even one of the lower expenses someone can incur from giving birth in the United States,” Cynthia Cox, coauthor of the analysis and a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told HealthDay. “Compared to other countries, they aren’t as likely to have this kind of out-of-pocket expense for the birth, but also longer parental leave and better access to childcare services.”

Different kinds of deliveries can cost wildly different amounts, as well. From pregnancy to postpartum, people who give birth via C-section sustain an average of $26,280 more in health care costs than women who do not give birth. In contrast, this amount for women with a vaginal delivery averages just under $15,000.

Four in 10 U.S. births are covered by Medicaid, according to the KFF. But in some states where Medicaid has not been expanded under the Affordable Care Act, coverage ends 60 days after delivery. After that mark, the new parents are on their own.

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