Addressing High Cost of Childbirth Care May Be a Tall Order Chart: One in Six Families Spent Over $5K on Childbirth

Across the U.S., about 2 million individuals with private insurance are admitted to the hospital each year for childbirth. It’s the No. 1 cause of hospitalization in the nation, and it’s also the cause of significant out-of-pocket health care costs, with an average bill of about $3,000, according to a paper published in June in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For one in six childbirths, the out-of-pocket cost exceeds $5,000, the University of Michigan-based researchers noted. The average bill for newborns who are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit is also $5,000, with one in 11 bills exceeding $10,000 for NICU care. Only 5% of patients had their hospital stay for childbirth covered in full by insurance.

“This is an immense financial burden for families at a time when they are already paying for future child care,” says the lead author of the study, Michelle Moniz, M.D., an assistant professor in the Michigan Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Many women don’t have paid parental leave. For many families, there’s a drop in income. This is a real financial shock.”

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