Sunday, April 22, 2012

The cost of a baby: Hospital edition

In late December while I was waiting for Natalie's arrival I compiled stats from the spreadsheet I was keeping of all the baby-related spending we were doing. I called it The cost of a baby, but I knew I'd have to give updates over time. I noted how during my entire pregnancy, including my advance payment for labor and delivery charges, we only paid $175 to bring Natalie into this world, $100 of which covered the labor and delivery insurance co-pay.

I distinctly remember having a phone conversation with a billing representative through our health insurance company just a couple weeks before Natalie's birth. I was calling about something unrelated, and when the man asked if I had any more questions I said, "Yes, actually. I've paid my $100 insurance co-pay for labor and delivery hospital charges. Am I going to get charged anything further associated with my daughter's delivery?" He said, "Yes, there could be other charges." Uh-oh, I thought, this is what I was afraid of -- it all had been sounding too good to be true. I braced for the bad news that I'd have to pay several thousand dollars in some kind of hidden expenses no one had ever mentioned.

When I pressed him to get more specific about these other potential charges, he said, "If you order some special food off the hospital menu or you make a long-distance call from your hospital room, you could be charged for those services." I asked him what else I could get charged for, and he struggled to come up with anything else. I asked if there were any medical procedures I could get charged for. I didn't want any surprise $10,000 medical bills showing up weeks after her birth. He just reiterated the same list he'd already mentioned, reminding me that yes, I could get charged for something, but in my mind I was thinking, is this for real?

The answer is yes, this is very for real. Now over 14 weeks out from Natalie's birth, we are still getting bills in the mail, but fortunately they are all arriving with a $0 balance, having been paid off by our insurance.

How much did my labor and delivery cost, including c-section and extended hospital stay?
$17,818.81

How much did Natalie's one-week NICU stay cost?
$48,217.12

That's a grand total of $66,035.93

We got it all for $100.

Thank goodness this is very for real.

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