Now that Republicans are making one final attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare this year — with a Sept. 30 deadline staring them down — it seems important to remind parents and lawmakers just how much giving birth can cost in the United States, since some Americans could soon be facing those costs on their own once again. To scare some civic duty into those who believe moms and their newborns should have access to affordable health care, here's a look at the 10 most expensive places to have a C-section, where the cost of giving birth can shoot upward of $25,000 for a straightforward delivery. Ouch.
Raising a tiny human is a fairly expensive ordeal, and if you look at the price of giving birth in the United States, it can often seem like some hospitals really want to kickstart that parental spending early on — especially when it comes to births that require C-sections. The method of delivery is considered a major surgery, so hospitals tend to price them quite a bit higher than they do vaginal deliveries (according to a 2013 report by Truven Health Analytics, the price of a C-section delivery is usually double the cost of a vaginal delivery).
Across the country, the average total charges for maternal and newborn care with a C-section usually come to a shocking $51,125 for women with employer-provided commercial health insurance, according to Truven Health Analytics. (The national average for a C-section alone, according to Castlight Health, usually comes to $11,525.)
Under Obamacare's current rules, insurers can't charge people more for pre-existing conditions (like pregnancy) and they must cover maternal and newborn care as part of their essential health benefits. Without those protections (which the Graham-Cassidy bill would reportedly strip from health care), moms would have to either purchase premiums for maternal coverage or pay out-of-pocket for those expenses.
In the following cities, the average cost for a C-section can get pretty high, according to Castlight Health's analysis:
- Sacramento, California: $27,067
- San Francisco, California: $21,799
- Portland, Oregon: $18,066
- Minneapolis, Minnesota: $17,705
- San Diego, California: $16,810
- Denver, Colorado: $16,808
- Seattle, Washington: $15,638
- Los Angeles, California: $14,879
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $14,694
- New York, New York: $14,428
Even within cities, the price for a C-section can vary pretty dramatically. In Los Angeles, for instance, as Castlight Health's analysis reported, the cost of a C-section can swing between a low of $6,232 or a high of seven times that amount at $42,530. And that's for the exact same procedure, folks.
I think the lesson here is to get the hell out of Dodge — or rather, California — if you're getting ready to give birth and don't want to fork over your life savings. Instead, you might consider getting your C-section done in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the average cost of a C-section is a comparatively low $4,419.
"The fact that these huge price differences exists for maternity care is deplorable," Kristin Torres Mowat, senior vice president of Plan Development and Data Operations at Castlight Health, said in a press statement. "The price variances seen in both routine and cesarean deliveries reflect the larger systemic problems in our nations’ healthcare system."
While you can't always control where and when you give birth, it's worth looking around at the costs in your area and figuring out what is and isn't covered by your insurance. At the moment, it's also worth calling your representatives to talk to them about the Graham-Cassidy bill, since repealing and replacing Obamacare without a health care plan in place that would cover both pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits would make childbirth much more expensive. Especially, as you probably can tell from the numbers above, for moms who require C-sections.
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