How much does it cost to have a baby? The maternal expenses vary dramatically. And it's not just from one city to another but also from one hospital to another located within the same metropolis, a new report finds.
Researchers from the California-based Castlight Health analyzed the expenses involved in delivering a baby among 30 of the biggest cities in the United States. These included the cost of vaginal deliveries as well as cesarean sections (C-sections).
"The fact that these huge price differences exists for maternity care is deplorable. The price variances seen in both routine and cesarean deliveries reflect the larger systemic problems in our nations' health care system," said Kristin Torres Mowat, Castlight Health's senior vice president of Plan Development and Data Operations.
The research team found that the average cost for the same medical services varied widely, even among hospitals located in the same cities. For instance, in New York City, a routine vaginal delivery in hospitals can cost patients between $4,022 and $17,646, noting a price difference of at least fourfolds.
In San Francisco, delivering a baby through a C-section ranged between $8,399 and $41,191. Depending on which hospital, the cost can easily go up to five times higher.
In Los Angeles (LA), a normal delivery method can cost between $4,223 and $27,326. For the same procedure, the expenses can surge up to six times higher depending on the hospital of choice. A C-section done in LA is even pricier, ranging from $6,232 to $42,530, noting a price difference of at least sevenfold.
They found that Sacramento is the most expensive place to have a baby through a routine vaginal delivery. In this city, the average cost is about $15,420. The researchers noted a dramatic difference compared to the least expensive city, Kansas City, where the same procedure costs just $6,075.
Sacramento also holds the title for the most expensive city to have a baby through a C-section. The procedure costs people more than $27,000. The least expensive city for C-section deliveries is Pittsburgh, wherein the same procedure costs approximately $6,900.
"These results underscore the need for employers to engage their employees in better health decision-making," wrote the researchers in the study's press release.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) data on the preliminary number of births in the country in 2015, there were 3,977,745 childbirths. The rate showed a 0.3 percent decrease from the 2014 figures of 3,988,076 [PDF].