Hands down for us, the most expensive thing about having a baby was literally having that baby!
Between prenatal visits, labwork, and then the actual hospital labor and delivery, we pretty much experienced it all. Just read Olivia’s birth story and you will see what I mean. 🙂
When it was all said and done, my doctor and hospital bills totaled a whopping $56,000. Isn’t that ridiculous?? Thank God my job gave me some pretty great insurance coverage, and I actually only ended up paying $2,000 out of pocket for everything, including co-pays and regular prenatal visits and labwork. Not too shabby!
Now, during my pregnancy I did a lot of research regarding pregnancy and birth and the various options that are available to women. Even though I didn’t pick all (obviously) of the choices below, I hope that some of this information is helpful to you if you are looking into pregnancy and birth and wondering how the heck to pay for it.
OH and a little side note: if you have insurance coverage that expects you to pay a certain amount of bills before the insurance coverage kicks in, it literally pays to try to get pregnant closer to the end of the year so that more of your bills get paid within one calendar year. I got pregnant in September, and had my first prenatal in December. I had to pay a little bit for that first visit and bloodwork, but the new calendar year wiped the slate clean and I had to start over again chipping away at my annual out of pocket amount. However, I had gotten pregnant, say, April, I would have had to pay my annual out of pocket amount for all my prenatal visits, have the slate wiped clean in January, and have to pay that amount again to cover the labor and delivery. Just a thought.
Traditional Insurance Coverage
This is probably the most common type of coverage. You know the basics- you are your employee pay a monthly premium and the insurance company agrees to pay a certain portion of your eligible medical bills. I am NOT an insurance expert, but if you have insurance coverage through a job, I would strongly suggest you look into the coverage and make sure you understand what, if any, maternity coverage is available. I know a lot of basic plans do not cover maternity and you have to pay an extra monthly fee to get the maternity coverage.
After you find out what is covered, create a budget based around what isn’t covered and start adding to a “pregnancy and birth” fund monthly. This way you won’t get caught with no money in your pocket and huge bills to pay at the end. This fund would ideally include your co-pay (and keep in mind that you go from monthly to weekly or bi-weekly visits to the doctor’s office toward the end!), a few hundred for ultrasound and lab fees, and whatever else you estimate you will need to cover for the labor and delivery. Your doctor’s office and/or your insurance company will probably be able to help you get an idea of the cost you are looking at if you ask.
Traditional Insurance Coverage- The HSA Plan
This was the route we went. My job offered me an HSA plan, and it was AWESOME! Basically- I had no co-pays whatsoever, I had complete maternity coverage, and my annual out-of-pocket was $2000. Knowing this, it was super easy to just set aside $2000 (it only took us a couple of months to complete) in my HSA account and call it done. No more worries! This also helped immensley when the hospital required a 50% prepayment on our stay to be able to say, “Don’t worry, it’s already all in the bank!” They actually waived the prepayment because I had the cash on hand.
Christian Care Medi-Share
As I have said before, now that I no longer work full time, we have looked into alternatives to traditional health insurance plans for Olivia and me. I looked into the premiums for me to maintain my HSA plan and it would be $250 a month just for me! No dice for those of us on a tiny budget.
What we do instead is subscribe to Christian Care Medi-Share health coverage. I detailed the plan a little bit in My Budget Boot Camp if you are unfamiliar with Medi-Share. We have been going with a lower monthly premium ($130 for both Olivia and I) and a slightly higher “deductible,” but we recently changed our plan to a higher premium. It takes 4 months for the new premiums to kick in, and you can’t change it while you are pregnant, so we timed it to kick in when Olivia is 1 year and 3 months old so that if we get pregnant after that point we will have a lower out of pocket to pay for the labor and delivery of our second child. Not that we’re definitely going to try to get pregnant then, but since it takes a long time to kick in, and we don’t want our kids too far apart in age, we’re thinking ahead and getting ready!
Basically- with the new plan we pay $200/month for Olivia and I both. Out annual out of pocket is $1,250, but for maternity care it is an additional $500 for a vaginal birth, and $1000 for a c-section. That puts us at $1,750-$2,250 annually, plus a $35 co-pay. That is pretty darn close to what we had to pay out of pocket with my HSA, and considering the premium is way better than I would have had to pay to maintain the HSA without my job, it is worth it to me! We’ll set aside about $3000 (which at our rate will take us 3, maybe 4 months tops), and call THAT a day!
No Coverage, No Problem: The Little Known Alternative
I don’t know if anyone out there actually doesn’t have health insurance, and pretty soon that won’t really BE an option, BUT: did you know that to have a homebirth with a direct-entry midwife you can get by paying $1,500-$3,000 out of pocket? Not to shabby.
That amount covers all prenatal care, and the care is actually leaps and bounds better than the care you get at a regular OB’s office. They will spend upwards of an hour with you in your own home, and since homebirth midwives are intensely invested in having a happy, healthy mama and happy, healthy baby, your care will be incredibly tailored and your pregnancy closely monitored.
And of course, you always have the option to transfer to a hospital at any time for any reason, but you will be stuck paying the bill for that if it happens, of course.
If you are interested in homebirth, for monetary reasons OR because of the awesome care you receive I can get you some resources for finding a great midwife, back-up obstetrician, and support persons, including others who have homebirthed. Just contact me! I haven’t done it myself but I do know many who have gone this route, and I know quite a bit about the topic myself. I’m a bit of a birth junkie!
What About You?
Do you have anything to contribute to this list? What have you tried? Do you have any tips for keeping hospital costs low when having a baby? I (and others!) would love to hear your story and your tips!