Spending money as you prepare for the arrival of your new baby can be enjoyable as you paint or wallpaper their future bedroom, buy a stroller to proudly wheel them around town and through the park, and pick out the perfect bassinet or crib.
Soon after your new addition comes home from the hospital, you’ll be spending a lot more money on that bundle of joy that won’t be quite as much fun. The bills will start coming in related to childbirth costs, such as labor, delivery, and the medical care for mother and child during and after birth.
To help you be prepared for the sticker shock of parenthood, let’s break down those costs, see how they can be paid, and even take a peek down the road at how much you’ll be spending to raise your new pride and joy.
- Cost of having a baby
- Average cost of hospital birth
- How insurance impacts the cost of childbirth
- Cost of raising a child
- Get coverage before pregnancy
Currently, the average cost of childbirth in the U.S, without complications, is just over $13,000. This figure includes standard predelivery and postdelivery expenses like facility fees and doctor bills.
The cost of giving birth rises significantly if a cesarean section (C-section) is involved. You’ll pay about $22,500 for a C-section, including the standard predelivery and postdelivery expenses.
These figures assume there are no complications, which can cause childbirth costs to skyrocket. Nearly 10% of babies in the U.S. are born premature, which is dangerous for the mother and child and significantly increases healthcare costs. According to the March of Dimes, a premature baby spends 25.4 days in a specialty care nursery for an average cost of $144,692.
The cost of childbirth will, of course, vary by location. Hospital charges for a vaginal delivery can fluctuate between states by as much as $30,000 and more than $50,000 for a C-section.
Nearly 99% of births in the United States take place in hospitals. New moms spend at least one night there, longer if they’ve had a C-section.
According to HealthCare.gov, here’s a breakdown of what routine delivery charges in a hospital may look like:
- Mother’s hospital charges: $2,700
- Routine obstetric care: $2,100
- Baby hospital charges: $900
- Anesthesia: $900
- Laboratory tests: $500
- Prescriptions: $200
- Radiology: $200
- Vaccines, other preventive $40
To keep costs lower, some pregnant mothers use alternative delivery methods. They choose to deliver their baby at a birthing center instead of a hospital, and some even choose to bring their baby into the world at home with the assistance of a midwife.
Choosing these alternatives can reduce costs, but the risk for mother and child increases because of the absence of high-tech medical care if there are problems with the delivery.
Whether or not the cost of midwives and birthing centers are covered will vary by insurer
The amount that you pay out-of-pocket for childbirth costs is affected by whether or not you have health insurance, either through Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or a private insurance company.
If you have health insurance, you may have to pay for your deductible, copays, and coinsurance for things like inpatient care for you and your baby, physician services, radiology, and medications. Fortunately, most health insurance plans have annual out-of-pocket maximums that can keep you from experiencing a financial catastrophe caused by a complicated delivery or premature birth.
An unpleasant surprise many new parents experience is their health insurance plan may apply some charges to their newborn individually as a “covered family member” immediately after they’re born, which means the baby has its own deductible and out-of-pocket costs for medical expenses.
Without health insurance, you’re going to be responsible for all of the costs for prenatal care and the birth of your baby. However, your state of residence may allow you to enroll in Medicaid or a state-sponsored health insurance program (if you qualify).
A bit of good news is that state and federal insurance regulations stipulate that health insurance companies and the Affordable Care Act must cover maternity care and childbirth. Only short-term health insurance plans and grandfathered individual health plans are exempt from this requirement.
In addition to health insurance, short-term disability insurance also helps many families financially with the costs associated with a mom-to-be missing work because of pregnancy. Many policies pay income replacement benefits up to six weeks after a normal delivery or eight weeks after a C-section. Long-term disability insurance payments can pick up from there, if necessary.
Paying the bills associated with your newborn is just the beginning of paying for their journey into adulthood (age 18 or when they head off to college). It’s estimated that the price tag of raising a child through their teen years is more than $230,000. Here’s a breakdown of some of the costs:
- Housing: comprises 29% of the total cost of raising a child. This varies by geographic location and the type of housing you choose: house, apartment, etc.
- Food: is the second-largest expense at 18% of the overall cost.
- Childcare: the third largest expenditure you’ll make for raising a child is childcare and education – 16%. Costs are highest in northeastern, southern, and western states.
- Transportation – getting your child to all of the places they need to go accounts for about 15% of the total cost of child-rearing. It reaches its peak when they’re 15-17 years old and gets their driver’s license — and your insurance premiums take a jump.
And, of course, the little things will add up as your child grows. There will be healthcare costs, clothing, activities, and insurance premiums.
Also, don’t forget to tack on the cost of college, which can cost thousands depending on the college attended and the degree pursued. A 529 college savings plan can help you cover these costs.
[ Related: How much does daycare cost? ]
There are many helpful online resources and financial advisors that can help you find the right insurance before your baby arrives. It’s best to have the proper health, life, and disability insurance in place before you become pregnant if you can since pregnancy might be considered a pre-existing condition with your insurer and could result in you being stuck with some hefty bills.
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