How Much I Paid for These Twins

$69,344.30

That’s how much it costs to have a relatively uncomplicated twin pregnancy and vaginal delivery. That includes the obstetrical care leading up to the birth and the medical care for me and the babies immediately following. It does not include insurance premiums – it’s just a total of the 9 months of bills from the hospital and doctors.

I have health insurance, so of course I didn’t pay the full amount, but our final contribution was somewhere around $7100, give or take a hundred (I am still working on arguing some bills that should be covered).

Does this seem absurd to anyone else?

I did not have a c-section.
I was not put under general anesthesia.
I only stayed 2 nights in the hospital, including the night I was in labor.
My delivery was done by a midwife, not a doctor (although a doctor was present).
My twins had no complications whatsoever. No NICU, no jaundice, no oxygen, nothing.

It was the most simple twin birth you can imagine, and yet it cost $69,344.30.

Some of you are reading this thinking Ricki Lake may have a point about home births. I don’t agree – I’m thankful (and willing to pay) for the opportunity to have each of my babies under the watch of trained, experienced professionals with all the modern technology available to them in the case of unforeseen circumstances. But I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that it costs $70k to have a birth where absolutely nothing goes wrong.

Is there anyone out there who would call that affordable care?

Sure, I only paid $7k, but saddling insurance companies with bills that high for basic things like having a baby is one explanation for our astronomical health insurance premiums (which I didn’t even factor into our final total). No I didn’t pay $69,000 out of pocket to have these babies, but you’d better bet we’ll all be paying for it through ridiculously high premiums every month for the rest of our lives – or until something changes to bring the costs down.

In my inexpert opinion, a good first step would be making people aware of how much medical procedures cost – before they elect to have them done. Last year I needed a biopsy on my thyroid and no one in the office could tell me how much it was going to cost. All they could tell me was that my insurance would cover it at 80% once I hit my deductible – which I hadn’t. I asked my OBGYN at one appointment if she knew how much a few upcoming procedures cost (ultrasound, urine sample, labs) and she had no idea. She asked me what my out of pocket max was and told me that I would surely hit it, so it didn’t really matter how each individual item rang up. That’s sort of true, but someone has to pay for all these unnecessary ultrasounds. It may be my insurance company paying it now, but it’s you and me paying it in the long run.

So here’s my idea:

What if there were laminated pamphlets with price lists in every doctor’s office? It would be like getting your nails done. They sit you down on the exam table, the doctor gives you his recommendation for treatment, hands you the menu, and you choose between “The Signature”, “The Deluxe”, or “The Hollywood Spa.” Then you can add on options as you see fit.

(You wan flowa? Only five dolla…)

I think knowing the prices in advance would significantly cut back on the final cost of having a baby. Would I choose to have an emergency c-section if I knew it was going to cost $50,000? Absolutely. But would I choose to have two ultrasounds a week for my last month of pregnancy at $400 a pop? Probably not. Would I stay under constant monitoring in the hospital for $4000 a day if I went into pre-term labor? Yes, definitely. But would I stay an extra night in the hospital post delivery if I knew the rate was $4000? Heck no. This is how everyone should be thinking about medical care – balancing cost with necessity. But how can we do that when we don’t know the cost until the bill comes?

All things considered, we paid $7,000 out of pocket and I’d say these babies are worth at least $8k. Maybe even $69,344.30. It was a bargain, really. I’m glad I ordered an extra dessert with every hospital meal and remembered to empty the in-room crib of all the diapers and wipes.

And I think in 12 months I’ll call my insurance company and tell them they can either buy me a new car or I can get pregnant again. They may just choose the car!

 

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