The cost of having a baby

The cost of having a baby

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by ANJANETTE FLOWERS / NBC Charlotte

WCNC.com

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 10:02 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For Jamie and Michael O'Hagan, they couldn't wait for the arrival of their second child: a little girl they named Lily.

"I'm feeling great. She's been really good," said Jamie O'Hagan, mom.

"She's been super-fantastic," added Michael O'Hagan, dad.

While everyone knows that having a baby is expensive, from diapers to food to clothes, literally, having a baby, as in giving birth can be pricey; so much so, there's a new trend.

"I've now had patients who have literally shopped around and gotten pricing,” said Dr. Chris Morris, OB/GYN, Novant Health Providence.

He added, "So, I've had at least two or three patients this year who have called the hospitals, gotten pricing and been told what their costs would be and switched their care, based on the quote that they got from each hospital."

That's something we never would've seen 10 years ago,” he said.

But a lot has changed since 10 years ago. Think about it. Barack Obama, now president, had just been elected senator in Illinois in 2004; Janet Jackson had her wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl; Facebook had just launched; George Bush was re-elected as president.

Since 2004, the cost of having a baby in the U.S. has reportedly gone up 300-percent.

"I don’t know that it surprises me," said Jamie O'Hagan, “I mean, that is a huge, huge increase."
 
We checked to see if the numbers around here compare.

Here's a look at what we found at Novant Health:
In 2004, the average cost for a vaginal birth was $6,000; today, it costs almost double-- around $11,000.

For a c-section in 2004, it cost $10,000, compared to $16,000 today.

Of course, these numbers are all before insurance, but even with insurance, patients have likely noticed changes.

"The burden of cost even for an insured patient has gone up dramatically," said Dr. Morris.

"So, whereas 10 years ago, someone's deductible might've been $500 or a $1,000, now it's typically--- we see them up at $2,000, even $3,000," he added.

Jamie O'Hagan said she knew what her deductible was, so she just put that money away.
For her, it was $2,500 out-of-pocket for her first child.

"What I pay out-of-pocket has gone up every year. So, I would expect the same to be said for the hospitals in what they charge as well," she said.

Even so, it still begs the question: why does it cost so much more now than it did just 10 years ago?

Pat Campbell, vice president of women's services for Novant Health, said part of the reason:  inflation, advances in technology and paying doctors and nurses based on their experience.

According to Thompson Healthcare/Truven Health Analytics, the average cost for a vaginal birth can range from $7,700 to $32,000 in the U.S.

For a c-section, we're talking anywhere from $11,000 to $51,000.

Keep in mind, the cost of having a baby in this country is the highest in the world.

"Some of it is expectations in America," said Campbell.

She added, "They're different than what moms have in other parts of the world."

"When I first started here, we did have semi-private rooms," said Campbell.

"I feel like it would be weird to have someone else in the room while giving birth," said Jamie O'Hagan.

"So, now we have all private rooms; as do most of the other facilities within our Charlotte area," said Campbell.

At the end of the day, experts say the prices vary from state to state, and even hospital to hospital.
Turns out, the hospitals can't call each other and set a price. Those are just the rules.

"We do not know what our competitors do quote as the cost for having a baby," said Campbell, “We know what we do. It's based on the services that we provide.”

Literally all of the services: from your time with a lactation consultant, to the care your newborn gets, to any medicine you take during your stay.

So, what do you do to offset some of those costs?

Campbell said, "Length of stay is one thing."

"The national average for a length of stay for a vaginal delivery is two days, and we have noticed that our average length of stay exceeds that," she stated.

We asked if bringing your own diapers or formula would lower the cost.

But she said, "Not really."

"With feeding, we are seeing over 80-percent of our moms breastfeeding, so the formula cost is really going down," said Campbell.

Besides, they discourage bringing in formula or diapers from the outside, as a safety precaution.
But some things you can do is to call and ask what's being covered, get an estimated cost and ask what's necessary.

While we were visiting baby Lily, her grandmother stopped by. Turns out, she saved the receipt from when she gave birth to Lily's mom, and as you might imagine it cost even less then.

"I saved the bill, and I made that part of her baby book," said Pam Carter, grandmother.

She added, "It was $3,000 for Jamie, and that was for a c-section."

Of course, at the end of the day, you really can't put a price tag on a life so precious.

"Well of course she's worth it. She's so cute. She's beautiful," Carter expressed.
 

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