The Labor & Delivery Bill

KQED

I don’t understand why medical costs need to be so murky, everything has a code associated with it. How on earth does one plan for a “$3,296 to $37,227” variation?

Our local NPR station is doing a series called “Price Check,” that is striving to make healthcare costs transparent in California. I always held an interested ear during my commute while pregnant, hoping beyond hope they would do a segment on childbirth costs before I gave birth. They didn’t, but I resolved to hold onto all my billing statements so when they inevitably did this segment–they would find at least the benefit of my Labor and Delivery information (here is the article).

What I did do pre-birth was call the billing center, and they put me off for an entire 4 weeks until giving me a rough figure with “this might not be accurate” thrown in every fifth word. SO many things would make *my* birth totally unique. The doctors were billed separately, my child was billed separately, room & board didn’t include ibuprofen which would also be billed separately. So much for preparation.

My final step was to “prepare for the worst.” Since I DO have insurance, who covers 100% of my prenatal (pre-birth) exams, and 80% of maternity I felt like I could be reasonably assured of my final bill. My insurance has an out-of-pocket max including the deductible of 4,200$…assuming I don’t have a child I need to add on for the date of service (birth) which would put me on a family plan (my husband uses his own insurance)…hmm, well, in THAT case, it’s an out-of-pocket max of 8,400$ for me and my babe. So even if my total bill was the maximum 37k, that would still be below this out-of-pocket max. Yay?

Time to hold on for reality. Birth!

My labor story was not particular unique, from a billing standpoint anyhow. I had a normal vaginal birth, and I used no medicines–in fact, I almost gave birth in the Hyatt because the midwife on staff refused to admit me on the grounds that no one gives birth in under 24 hours for their first child. I arrived with twenty minutes to spare, 5.5 hours after my first contraction.

Billing doesn’t care about these details, so here’s the dirt:

Billed to the Mother

I didn’t use an epidural (which would come with the cost of the epidural, plus the cost of the anesthesiologist), and I didn’t get some of the medications tests indicated I needed (because I wasn’t admitted), so my birth was fairly bare bones.

Midwife: Billed as Gynecologist/Obstetrician

Pr Full Rout Obste Ca $6,443.00
Sub-Total Charges: $6,443.00
> (Ins. Contractual Agreement +869.80, Insurance: -$4,285.35)
Sub-Total Paid: $1,287.85

*Bill received 2 months after birth

Facility & Services Fees

ROOM AND BOARD $4,459.00
PHARMACY $354.36 (I had a shot of pitocin in the leg post-birth to help with bleeding, and got ibuprofen and stool softener for postpartum)
CLINIC $527.00
LABOR ROOM DELIVERY $5,454.00
MEDICAL/SURGICAL SUPPLIES AND DEVICES $14.90
Sub-Total Charges: $10,809.26
> (Ins. Contractual Agreement: +$504.74, Insurance: -$800.15, -$8,647.41)
Sub-Total Paid: $2,161.85

*Bill received 5 months after birth

Billed to Child

I accepted all the routine newborn care, he didn’t need any special medications, so this is for your standard healthy babe.

NURSERY $5,150.00 (didn’t actually use the nursery, they said this was for access to nurses)
LABORATORY $451.80
PHARMACY $134.69
MEDICAL/SURGICAL SUPPLIES AND DEVICES $165.95
PULMONARY FUNCTION $130.00
AUDIOLOGY $368.00
Sub-Total Charges: $6,400.44
> (Insurance Allowance: -$1,303.44, Insurance: -$4,892.13)
Sub-Total Paid: $204.87

*Bill received 5 months after birth

Grand Totals

Grand Total Billed: $23,652.7
Grand Total Paid by Insurance: $19,998.13
Grand Total Paid by My Pocket: $3,654.57

DSC_0101

Worth every penny

What was yours?

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