Medical bills are mystifying; sometimes it can feel like we're charged for something we didn't even know happened or something we never thought would cost money. That's exactly what happened to a Reddit user who was charged almost $40 to hold his baby after his wife had given birth, according to Vox.
On an itemized medical bill given to the couple after delivery, a $39 charge for "skin to skin after C-sec" was listed. The Reddit user explained that although they weren't mad about the charge, they did find it amusing that it cost so much money just to hold their own son, something that didn't seem to require any special equipment or personnel. He commented the following, explaining what happened at the hospital:
During the C-section the nurse asked my wife if she would like to do skin to skin after the baby was born. Which of course anyone would say yes too. We just noticed it in the bill today.
The nurse let me hold the baby on my wife's neck/chest. Even borrowed my camera to take a few pictures for us. Everyone involved in the process was great, and we had a positive experience. We just got a chuckle out of seeing that on the bill.
Another user responded to the original poster's comments, citing the fact that a nurse was required in the room during "skin to skin" as a reason why it might have cost $39. But even if a nurse is required, it doesn't explain the lack of transparency about the bill. Many users from other countries were shocked that Americans had to pay at all to deliver a baby.
Even though the couple wasn't really upset about the charge (the Reddit user said the hospital did a great job with the birth of his son), it still shows just how quickly little charges during pregnancy can add up. In 2013, the New York Times published a story about the sky-high costs of parenthood in America, calling it the "costliest in the world." The story featured a new mother from New Hampshire who fought for low costs during pregnancy, but still had to pay hundreds of dollars for each procedure or visit:
Midway through her pregnancy, she fought for a deep discount on a $935 bill for an ultrasound, arguing that she had already paid a radiologist $256 to read the scan, which took only 20 minutes of a technician’s time using a machine that had been bought years ago. She ended up paying $655.
The Times compared the cost of childbirth across developed countries and found that American women pay much more for childbirth.
Women's Health surveyed new mothers to find out how much childbirth cost for them, and the results fall in line with previous surveys. The women reported feeling shocked and frustrated about all the costs, but helpless. There was only so much back and forth possible with insurance companies before they gave up or settled for a compromise.
Although the $39 charge for holding a baby after delivery is nothing compared to thousands in overall childbirth costs, it does show how little things can add up on medical bills — and it definitely shows how unfair and ridiculous these fees could seem to new parents.