If you’re having a child in California, you could be billed anywhere from $3,296 to $37,227 just for a routine delivery—and as high as $71,000 for a cesarean section. Those numbers come from a new study on state childbirth out of UC San Francisco, and hospitals are already pushing back against it. LA Times:
Hospitals say these average charges are irrelevant because they have little or no bearing on what they actually get paid by the government, insurers or patients.On average, this study said, the discounted prices paid by insurers amounted to 37% of the original hospital bill. The researchers said the hospitals in the study billed $1.3 billion in excess charges beyond what they received in reimbursement.
It’s true that across all procedures, insurance companies are able to negotiate a price for their clients lower than the rate at which the hospital initially prices a procedure. But the expense of childbirth is still enormous, especially when paired with the after-birth costs of diapers, formula, daycare in two-earner families, and other baby memorabilia like cribs and strollers.Insurance companies sometimes make this worse by refusing to cover expenses for natural forms of birth involving midwives and doulas. So even if you opt for the cheaper, non-hospital birth, your out-of-pocket expenses are often quite high. Add all those costs to the enormous amount spent at an average wedding, and you start to get a sense of the large financial disincentives young adults contemplating marriage and children face. Those concerned about declining family formation and fertility in America should focus on how to make marriage and childrearing less expensive for the young.