Home Birth vs. Hospital: The Cost Gap is Huge
The baby is due, and it’s such wonderful news! You have had nine months to plan and prepare. At the first sign of labor, you take off to the hospital. The rest (the money part) is covered by your health insurance. All you have left to do is bring home that bundle of joy. Mostly that’s how it goes.
But for the frugal-minded parents, it might be worthwhile exploring what else is out there. Most American expectant parents don’t know that there are options for giving birth other than hospitals.
Here are a few places expectant parents might want to consider and the difference in cost and health outcomes.
The Cost Effectiveness of Birth: I calculated the home birth cost by rounding 68 percent less than a vaginal birth with no complications at a hospital.
Out-of-hospital births are 68 percent less expensive than a hospital. They are the least expensive option for giving birth. Giving birth at home is great for a parent with a low-risk pregnancy.
A midwife and often a doula will assist in the birth. Midwives are trained professionals who are certified to cater to birth and birthing parents. Doulas are trained to assist in birth and often provide support in the postpartum period as well. The American Pregnancy Association says that births with a doula are less likely to use pain-relief medications. They are also less likely to end in a cesarean birth.
My friend Leah had a home birth experience for her son back in 2011. You can read about it on her blog here. Additionally, her costs are included below:
For low-risk pregnancies and births, a birth center is a great alternative to a hospital or home birth. The 149 certified birth centers in the U.S. are run by midwives. They are freestanding facilities where individuals can go to give birth without going directly to a hospital. Robyn Pool, the founder of PUSH Midwifery & Birth Center, says that many expectant parents think they must “go somewhere” to give birth, and they choose a birth center which is neither home nor hospital. There is no difference in care between giving birth at home or at a birthing center. Despite this, many people feel more comfortable being away from home for the birthing process.
According to the National Birth Center Study II, 0.3 percent of all U.S. births take place in a birth center, and 94 percent of people who enter labor at a birth center achieve a vaginal birth. Less than 1 percent of laboring parents are transferred to a hospital for emergency reasons.
PUSH, which serves northern Los Angeles, charges $5,800 for its services. This includes all prenatal care, the birth, the midwifery team, and postpartum care for up to six weeks. Facility and lab costs are billed to insurance.
The National Birth Center Study II states that 98.8 percent of all US births take place in a hospital labor and delivery center, with 85 percent of those being low-risk. Even with a low-risk pregnancy and birth, intervention is likely for any number of reasons leading to high hospital bills. In fact, even if you have avoided a cesarean section, you may be charged for anesthesia, the newborn tests, room and board, and supplies.
Recently, I called my health insurance to see how much it would cost for a vaginal birth with no complications.
Automatically, I would need to meet my deductible of $3,000 for the year for the insurance to cover anything. My insurance covers 70 percent of costs once I reach the individual deductible. The estimated cost of birth at the hospital I’m considering is about $9,000. So I will be paying about $4,800 out-of-pocket. That doesn’t even include any costs incurred for the baby. Lastly, it’s important to note is that the $4,800 is only for the cost of the birth. It does not cover any of the prenatal care, unlike midwifery services that tend to include them.
It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘bringing home a bundle!’ Be sure to know the costs upfront so you can plan ahead.