The cost of having a baby.

Kudos to The New York Times and its reporter, Elisabeth Rosenthal, for her insightful article, American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World that addresses what many healthcare providers have known for years: our present healthcare system is a rip-off, especially for pregnant women.

What makes Rosenthal’s article so compelling is that she is a board-certified physician who has trained through the system. According to the article, the cost of having a baby and receiving newborn care in the U.S. has tripled and is approximately $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a cesarean section. In contrast, the cost of receiving the same services in England is $4,435, $6,441 in France and $10,566 in Australia. You could go also go to Argentina and get the same services for $1,541. And please don’t think having insurance will save you because you will still pay an average of $3,400.00 out of pocket, something totally unheard of 20 years ago.

If you think that your obstetrician is receiving most of the money, please think again. Obstetricians receive less than 25% of your hospital fees and it’s bundled into a flat fee, whether you have 15 visits or one. Why do you think ob-gyn physicians have added spas, weight loss programs, liposuction procedures and “nutritional” services to their practice? Their incomes are steadily declining.

What can pregnant women do to combat these issues? Think outside the box.

  •  Take a friendly trip to your hospital’s billing office and try to obtain an estimate of costs before you actually commit to having a baby in their hospital
  • Inquire as to whether your healthcare provider will still see you if you lose your present insurance
  • Do comparative shopping. Most hospitals compete with each other. Find out what each individual hospital charges for your care and negotiate.

Having a baby shouldn’t wreck havoc on your budget so please do your homework.

A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen; it takes a smart mother who knows what to do. For more tips, please pick up a copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy.