Giving birth in a hospital will probably be the biggest baby expense you will face during your pregnancy and your child’s infancy. According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the average cost for an uncomplicated vaginal hospital birth is about $9,000. This does not include prenatal care–it is simply what it costs from the moment you walk into the hospital to the moment you leave.
Oh, and it also doesn’t include anesthesia (like the epidural), the cost of your obstetrician, or the cost of the visit from your baby’s new pediatrician. And if there are any complications, your costs can skyrocket. If you have health insurance, it will likely cover a large percentage of these costs. But even if it covers 80%, you’re still coming out of pocket nearly $2,000 and possibly much more.
There are, of course, alternatives to a hospital birth and we’ll cover those another day. For now, lets look at some easy ways to save money at the hospital.
- Shop around. While the cost of giving birth will likely be similar at all hospitals in your area, check on prices anyway. Most hospitals will tell you what the average cost of birth in their facility is.
- Ask about discounts. Some hospitals offer discounts for prepayment which could save you a percentage on your total hospital bill.
- Ask about options. Is a private room standard? Is there an extra charge for the television or the phone? You could potentially save quite a bit of money by opting out of these luxuries.
- Go as natural as possible. Is it hospital policy to start an IV upon admission? If not, skip it. Considering a natural birth (i.e., no epidural)? It’ll save you quite a bit of money.
- BYOT (Bring Your Own Toiletries). If diapers, sanitary napkins, and baby wipes are included in the package price for your baby’s birth, great–use them. And, if hospital policy allows it, take home any extras at the end of your stay. If, however, these products are itemized, ask about bringing your own. It will cost you a lot less to bring your own disposable products than it will to use them at the hospital’s inflated rates. You might even inquire about bringing your own tissue, soap, and even plastic cups. Think it’s not worth it? Think again. Some hospitals charge an excessive amount for these items (try a $100 box of Kleenex!).
- BYOM (Bring Your Own Medicine). Ask your OB ahead of time what kind of over-the-counter medications you will be given during your stay (often Tylenol or ibuprofen) and then bring them with you. The hospital may charge a few dollars per pill whereas you could spend just pennies per pill by bringing them from home. Also, if you are on any prescription medications, be sure to bring them with you. Otherwise, you will have to pay for a dose or two of the medication from the hospital’s pharmacy (not cheap!).
- Don’t forget your freebies. Formula and diaper companies often supply hospitals with free diaper bags and samples to send home with new moms. If you aren’t given these items, ask about them. The samples are nice and the diaper bags are usually perfect for dads–plain, neutral colors with little, if any, cutesy designs.
- Check your bill. You probably wouldn’t pay your server in a restaurant without checking your bill first. Don’t pay your hospital without checking, either. Ask for an itemized bill and then check it and check it again. Errors are extremely common and many people end up paying more than they should as a result. If you have any questions about an item on the bill, ask for an explanation