How much does it ACTUALLY cost to have a baby?
This is a piece I wrote in 2016 after having our second child. Though medical costs could have changed in the 2.5 years since, I know that the policies and procedures of our bill sharing ministry have not—so, this is still relevant, timely information for anyone considering having a baby and/or changing up their insurance.
Talking about money, politics, and religion is a quick recipe for disaster, right? Well, I'm going to go ahead and be really blunt about all three, in regard to one monumental, colossal event:
having a baby.
I guess different doctors and hospitals (and birthing centers and midwives and...) send bills of varying sizes, and the care required also dictates how much one may owe at the end of the whole birthing miracle, but neither in 2014 nor in 2016 could I find any definitive information about how much we may expect to pay in medical bills in order to have a baby. Some websites would go ahead and give an estimate, but "anywhere from five thousand to thirty thousand dollars" was just not super helpful information.
So, like I said, I'm going to be super blunt. Maybe it'll help someone out. Obviously there are no two people or two bills alike, but this could be a good reference point, at least.
When we had Charlotte in 2014, I had high-deductable insurance through our school. We also each had $2400 on a Flex card that we could put towards medical bills (that school district had incredible benefits). Because our bills were sent to our insurance company and then to us, I'm not sure exactly what the grand total of her birth was, but I know that we each emptied our Flex cards (so that's $4800) and then we spend another grand or two of our own cash. We ended up meeting the deductible (barely!!) but then quickly un-met it, when (confusingly, in my opinion) Charlotte was added to my insurance, so the deducible went up before all the bills were settled. So, my estimate is that insurance did not cover about $6500 of her (incredibly healthy, incredibly boring, no epidural/anesthesiologist) birth. To say that we were so grateful for that $4800 of Flex card money is a gross understatement.
So, when we found out that Georgia was going to be joining us (!!) we were a) excited, b) nervous, and c) really curious how Samaritan Ministries would help us handle the finances involved.
Spoiler alert. THEY REALLY HELPED.
Here's the skinny. We used a private practice (Craig Ranch OBGYN, same as Charlotte's birth, highly recommend them) and had great prenatal care. I needed no extra services or care--it was a blessedly healthy pregnancy. We delivered at Baylor McKinney (again, highly recommend them) and had zero drama there. I did get an epidural this time (PRAISE BE TO THE LORD THAT IS THE STUFF OF ANGELS, HALLELUJAH AND AMEN), and we did have one extra visit to the hospital (a baby-doesn't-want-to-move scare a few days before delivery), so the bill was a bit higher than before.
All that being said, these were our bills:
Craig Ranch OBGYN: $4,000
Baylor Scott + White (first hospital visit): $279.34
Baylor Scott + White (momma's bill): $8,268.83
Baylor Scott + White (baby's bill): $1,131.52
In-hospital pediatrician: $1,736
Labs and pharmacy: $77.43
GRAND TOTAL: $14,373.12
HOLY MONKEY FACE, BATMAN.
I know we look like we use dollar bills as toilet paper, but believe it or not, we're really not super wealthy. So these were definitely intimidating bills.
One of our first responsibilities as members of Samaritan Ministries is to advocate for discounts. So that was my first item of business. It was so ridiculously easy.
*calls number listed on bill*
"Hi, this is (insert biller's name), what can I do to help you?"
"Hi, I'm Rebecca (insert other identifying information) and I'm paying cash. I was wondering if we're eligible for any discounts."
"Yes, let me check." *twelve seconds later* "Yes, we can give you a 40% discount."
UM OKAY IF YOU INSIST.
So, after all those phone calls, this is what our bills came down to:
Craig Ranch OBGYN: $3,600
Baylor Scott + White (first hospital visit): $167.60
Baylor Scott + White (momma's bill): $4,961.30
Baylor Scott + White (baby's bill): $678.91
In-hospital pediatrician: $885.36
Labs and pharmacy: $77.43 (didn't get any discounts here)
GRAND TOTAL: $8,370.60
That's $6,002.52 in discounts, which comes out to just almost 42% in savings. So even if we were having to handle our bills by ourselves, we would already be in a much better place.
But, $8,300 is definitely more than the $6.5k for which we were responsible for Charlotte.
But but, we're not alone.
We submitted all of these bills to Samaritan Ministries, and they set us up to receive 100% reimbursement.
For real. All of it.
So, in the end, this birth cost us $0 out of pocket.
Well, that's not actually true. We spent some money on stamps, and it definitely cost us some time as we were responsible for some legwork, and there's a $45 pharmacy bill that I didn't get itemized so I'm just going to choose to go ahead and handle that.
But I think it's fair to say that we have ZERO worries, especially when the whole picture is considered.
Back to the talk of religion, politics, and money:
because of our faith, we're able to take part in this program. We're out of the political discussion (though we still care very much about that state of affairs), and we are financially cared for.
Win, win, win.
Note: We're sharing this information because it's what we would have wanted to know before we got into this, and hopefully it's both helpful and encouraging. If anyone decides to join Samaritan and this information was helpful, and you would like to put my name (Rebecca Egger) as your referral, please feel free (we do receive a small discount on a monthly share), but definitely do not feel obligated. That's not what this is about.
Additional note: I know I didn't address any specifics about how the process works. Samaritan does an excellent job of answering all these questions, and I did my best on my previous blog entry as well. Please comment below if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to share our experiences. Also, pro-tips for the baby-havers: talk to your doctor's office about this at your FIRST VISIT and DO NOT LEAVE without throughly understanding how they will work with you. We had to pay our bill in full within two visits to receive discounts, and I had to stick to my guns to make sure that was handled correctly. Also, contact the hospital before you go in to deliver. They want a deposit. #oops.