There’s no denying it – raising children is Dear. And it’s not just the teenage years that are costly. Even before baby arrives, mom and dad spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on prenatal care, labor and baby equipment. But, it doesn’t stop there. Few first-time parents understand how much it will cost to give birth. With thousands of dollars spent on hospital costs for labor and delivery alone, it’s no wonder many families feel financially strained after welcoming their new bundle of joy into the world.
A study published in the journal Health Affairs on out-of-pocket expenses for maternity care among women with employer-sponsored health plans found that the average vaginal birth in the United States costs $4,314, while the caesarean delivery costs $5,161.
For many families, the high costs of hospital birth and maternity costs are more than they expect and can be a major financial burden, adding more anxiety to an already stressful time.
Navigating the financial costs of having a baby can be confusing, but there are options to lower your hospital birth costs. Review these expert tips to learn how you can save on these Health care costs:
- Review your insurance coverage.
- Choose your healthcare provider carefully.
- Stay with your supplier network.
- Negotiate payments in advance.
- Establish a payment plan.
- Beware of additional costs for an epidural.
- Seek financial assistance.
- Consider alternatives to childbirth.
- Examine invoices for potential errors.
Review your insurance coverage
Before you even get pregnant, find out if your insurance plan provides adequate coverage and what your expected out-of-pocket expenses will be to have a baby. Because maternity benefits can vary greatly from one insurance company to another as well as between different health insurance plans, planning ahead gives you time to switch providers if necessary.
“The most effective way to lower your hospital birthing bills is to be smart about the health insurance coverage you choose,” says Sarah Michalczuk, founder and CEO of predictaBill, a New York-based company created to help people understand the cost of motherhood. care under different health insurance options. “You should be careful during open enrollment periods both before you try to conceive and before your due date.”
If you don’t understand the policy details, call your health insurance provider to explain your coverage and research any coverage limitations or potential exclusions that could affect your care and costs. It’s also important to figure out what you’ll need to pay for office visits for prenatal care, ultrasounds and other tests, as well as labor and delivery costs. And, if you have a high deductible, it may be a good idea to switch to a plan with a lower deductible. Even if you pay more on monthly premiums, a lower deductible and maximum expense can save you more in the long run.
Choose your healthcare provider carefully
Once you’ve found the best health insurance coverage option to ensure the best care and lower your out-of-pocket costs, the next biggest impact on your bills is your choice of healthcare provider. “While you’re likely to choose an OB-GYN based on a variety of factors, something to consider is that your doctor is likely only affiliated with one hospital,” says Michalczuk. “If you are considering multiple physicians, you may want to choose the one affiliated with the least expensive hospital.” Therefore, take the time to compare hospital costs for childbirth, which you can do by calling the administrative offices of the various facilities in your area.
Stay with your supplier network
When choose your gynecologist or where you want to give birth, it is important to stay within your network of providers. This is a group of doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health care providers who are under contract with your health insurance plan. This ensures that all of your medical payments count towards your maximum out-of-pocket limit, Michalczuk says. Otherwise, you may not receive reimbursement for out-of-network care unless your plan has generous benefits, she says.
Keep in mind that your maximum out-of-pocket is the amount you must pay for covered services, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for in-network care and services in a plan year. Once you reach this limit, your insurance company pays the bill for all covered benefits at 100% of the cost. However, this limit may not include anything paid for care and services with out-of-network providers.
Negotiate payments in advance
Don’t wait to receive a medical bill to inquire about payment options. The sooner you contact your health care providers, the more options you will have to negotiate rates. “When you communicate early, your provider likely has more flexibility about the options available to you,” says Heather George, chief revenue officer of Patientco, a payments technology company for healthcare systems.
Meanwhile, Gail Trauco, a registered nurse and founder of Medical Bill 911, an online resource that helps consumers manage their health care bills, suggests asking for a discount if you’re able to make full payment at advance. “Generally, the discounts are 10% to 20%. Ask for a bigger discount if your insurance company has paid at least 80% of your bill,” says Trauco.
Set up a payment plan
If upfront payment discounts aren’t an option, ask about setting up a payment plan. Doing it ahead of time will ease the stress of finding out after baby arrives and give you more leeway in your budget so you don’t have to use a high-interest credit card and go into debt.
“Some health care organizations offer payment plans and financing so you can pay your medical bills over several months,” says George. “Or, you may be able to schedule a future payment for a later date, such as after your next payday.”
Beware of the additional costs of the epidural
You may scream at the thought of passing on the epidural, but it’s important to know that it comes with a bigger hospital bill. According to FAIR Health, a nonprofit health care organization that maintains a national database of insurance claims, the average cost of an epidural was $2,132 in 2016.
Consider alternatives to childbirth
Out-of-hospital births have become more popular over the past decade as women look for natural ways to give birth inexpensively. In fact, 1 in 62 births in the United States in 2017 was an out-of-hospital birth, and home births increased 77% from 2004 to 2017, while birth center deliveries more than doubled during that time. according to United States National Library of Medicine.
Giving birth in a birthing center or at home costs less than in a hospital for several reasons, including the absence of high-risk procedures, but you stay in a birthing center for less time. Of course, these options are only for low-risk pregnancies, so it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to make the best decision for you.
Apply for financial assistance
If you can’t afford insurance or your insurance plan doesn’t provide maternity coverage, you may qualify for certain financial assistance programs based on your income, Trauco says. For example, Medicaid provides health coverage to certain low-income people, including pregnant women, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. If your income disqualifies you from Medicaid, but you are still in financial difficultyask the hospital if they can reduce your hospital bill based on declining income, advises Trauco.
Review invoices for potential errors
Medical bills will start piling up in the mail after your baby arrives, and it can be extremely confusing to read these bills when they’re filled with insurance codes and specific service details are missing. . However, Trauco warns that these invoices may contain errors, so it is important to review each one in detail before paying.
“The biggest mistake you can make is seeing a bill and automatically paying it,” says Trauco. “There’s a good chance the number you see is a mistake.”
For control your bills, call the hospital department to confirm that the insurance information on file is correct, then review the billing codes with your health insurance company to ensure that your coverage has been calculated accurately. This will help you identify billing errors, says Trauco.