There’s an awful lot that can be painful about childbirth. In fact, labour has been listed as one of the most painful medical conditions there is, right up there with kidney stones, gunshot wounds, and shingles.
Yet, for many in the United States, the most painful part of childbirth isn’t the aptly-named “ring of fire,” but the hospital bill that comes afterward.
And one dad’s viral tweet about the cost of delivering a baby in the U.S. has the internet shaking its head in disbelief.
On Saturday, New York science journalist Dave Mosher tweeted a photo of the hospital bill for the birth of his second child, and — as he puts it himself — the amount is “ludicrous.”
“Cost billed to mom: $27,015.57. Cost billed to baby: $27,355.46 The absolute absurdity of this speaks for itself,” Mosher wrote.
“It should not cost $1,132.73 per hour / $18.88 per minute to have a baby. It just f―-ing should not. That’s ludicrous.”
For those doing the math, that is US$54,371, or ... wait for it ... CAD$71,456 JUST TO HAVE A BABY!!!!
And, as Mosher detailed, the delivery wasn’t even what you might consider complicated (which can increase the cost). He said the mother was healthy, and had a standard vaginal birth without the use of any epidural or anesthetics. The baby was healthy and didn’t require any additional tests or procedures. They spent 48 hours in Mount Sinai hospital.
WATCH: This is how much childbirth costs in the U.S. Story continues below.
As they do, the fine people of the internet had thoughts, many of them pointing out that similar or even much more complicated births in countries with universal health care can cost nothing, or close to it.
“Private room, dedicated midwife, 12 hours oxytocin, epidural, emergency cesarean. 3 night in hospital w meals, breast feeding clinic, diapers, & round the clock care. My bill? $12.00. America doesn’t deserve women,” a Canadian wrote.
“Cost to my sister back in UK for the same? A grand total of £0.00,” another person added.
“I had triplets. Here in Australia my bill was $0.00 The American system sux,” added another.
Unfortunately, while the hefty bill might seem surprising to those with universal health care, the cost of childbirth and hospital visits in general in the U.S. can indeed be astronomical.
(All prices below converted to CAD).
According to Business Insider, the average cost of having an uncomplicated vaginal birth in the U.S. is $14,217. Even if one is lucky enough to have health insurance ― which is sometimes available through an employer’s group coverage plan, can be purchased directly from a health insurance company, or sometimes available through government programs like Medicaid (if you qualify) ― you can still be left paying about $4,000, according to the Economist.
And the numbers vary widely by state and hospital. The most expensive state, according to Business Insider, is Alaska. There, an average vaginal birth with insurance costs $14,052, while an uninsured vaginal birth costs $26,017. A C-section with insurance costs, on average, $19,683. Without insurance? $37,484.
According to 2018 U.S. census data, 28 million people in the U.S. don’t have health insurance, and the most common age group is 26-44— you know, the childbirth years. Experts cited by the Guardian estimate that thousands of U.S. families are driven into bankruptcy from the cost of childbirth each year.
WATCH: Dad charged $40 to hold his baby. Story continues below.
It does appear from his bills that Mosher has health insurance, and his out-of-pocket fees were more like $1,315. He acknowledged that he’s one of the luckier ones on Twitter.
“We need to start over with a system that works for everyone. Can’t imagine being uninsured, or even underinsured, and trying to start a family,” Mosher tweeted.
How it works in Canada
Canada’s health care system is publicly funded, and the provinces/territories deliver most services. The Canadian Institute for Health Information notes that “provincial and territorial health insurance plans generally cover medically necessary hospital and physician services related to childbirth.”
The Institute calculated that in 2002-2003, the average in-patient uncomplicated vaginal birth cost $2,700, and a C-section cost $4,600. Hospital costs for newborns cost anywhere from $795 for a healthy full-term baby to $117,806 for a baby that weighs less than 750 grams at birth. The average NICU stay cost $9,700. Again, this is generally covered by the province.
Rates do tend to be lower in Canada, according to Insider, which makes the country a destination for birth tourism.