The median cost of a vaginal birth in the U.S. is approximately $13,000, which can increase to $20,000 depending on the state and health insurance provider. A range of factors has contributed to this cost, including inflation, technological advances, and a shortage of healthcare workers, causing hospital prices and private insurers and employers to increase deductibles. These rising childbirth costs are causing financial stress and debt for many Americans, particularly those with private or employer-based health insurance.
Increasing Childbirth Costs in the US
In the United States, the median cost of vaginal birth with an in-network doctor is around $13,000. However, this cost varies depending on state and health insurance provider, with the maximum price in some states reaching up to $20,000. This high cost of childbirth is leading many young Americans into medical debt.
According to the FAIR Health’s cost of giving birth tracker, the median cost of an in-network C-section in the U.S. last year was about $15,500. The national median price for an out-of-network birth is more than twice as expensive. Hospital prices have risen due to inflation, technological advances, and a shortage of healthcare workers, among other factors.
Between 2017 and 2021, the price of deliveries and childbirth hospital stays increased by 22%, according to the Health Care Cost and Utilization Report by the Health Care Cost Institute. The high childbirth costs can cause stress and, ultimately, debt for many expecting parents.
A case in point is Sadie Peterson, 28, who is expecting her second child. After switching health insurance providers, she and her husband are now expecting to pay closer to $12,000 for their second delivery, up from the $5,000 they paid for their first one.
The cost of childbirth can vary greatly depending on location and healthcare coverage. For instance, Americans covered by Medicaid spend little to nothing out-of-pocket on childbirth. However, those with private insurance or healthcare coverage through their employer are seeing an increase in childbirth costs due to rising deductibles and other forms of cost sharing.
According to the American Enterprise Institute, the price of hospital services has increased by 200% since 2000 due to factors like increased concentration, better and more expensive technology, and insurance coverage that lessens how much patients feel price increases.
The increasing price of deliveries is causing a significant financial burden on young parents, plunging many Americans into debt. A recent KFF report revealed that over 40% of American adults carry healthcare debt, with pregnancy and childbirth costs being a contributing factor for 20% of those young adults.