January 16, 2014

The cost of giving birth varies widely


The median cost of an uncomplicated non-surgical delivery in California.

Recent reports have shown that hospital charges for the most common procedures can vary widely. A new report, published by BMJ Open and funded by the National Institutes of Health, looks at two of the most common procedures and finds wide variation in the cost of giving birth, both through normal delivery and Cesarean section.

Researchers compared data from over 100,000 uncomplicated births in California hospitals and found the charges for a vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227, with a median cost of $14,620. For uncomplicated births by c-section, the cost ranged from $8,312 to $70,908, with $27,481 median. Researchers Renee Y. Hsia, Yaa Akosa Antwi and Ellerie Weber found the highest hospital charge was 11 times higher than the lowest hospital charge for a vaginal birth. They found similarly large ranges for c-sections: The highest hospital charge was 8.5 times that of the lowest.

The study found that insurers pay on average 37% of the charges.

So, why the difference? Cost variables such as hospital ownership, case mix, the percent of uninsured in the county and market competitiveness each had a “significant impact” on the charges.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Health Care

  1. Photo of Sara Kehaulani Goo

    is a senior digital editor at Pew Research Center.


  1. Charlene Jessamine4 years ago

    It’s free in Canada 😀

  2. Patrick Venton4 years ago

    The one thing that was left out would be those who did not use hospital delivery services. Their costs were negligible yet there. The opulence of the hierarchy and those educated to not question such would be there undoubtedly on the high end. All those in the middle with complication or not would be using the competitive groups . And of course they would be inclusive with the insurance industry with the many schemes they have devised for the different wages of the insured and the counties that help out in the grand schemes of things.. It is not as bad as pay as you pull however with such a huge difference in cost some souls suffer greatly with such a disparity when they have to reach out quickly..

  3. Merriwether4 years ago

    Would love to see each CA county’s cost.