In the United States, approximately 31% of births result in a cesarean delivery (C-section). These births require more medical intervention, thus the cost of C-sections on average is much higher than vaginal delivery. You may know before giving birth that you will have a C-section due to having one previously or other medical reasons. Even if you expect a vaginal delivery, knowing the cost of a C-section will help avoid sticker shock if plans change. You may end up being one of the almost 1 in 3 women in the US that deliver their child through a C-section and it’s great to be prepared ahead of time.
The average cost of a C-section in the United States without any complications is $22,646. (This cost does not include what insurance covers. Please consult your insurance plan for what you would pay out-of-pocket.) However, C-sections inherently are performed because a vaginal delivery is not deemed in the best interest of the mother or child. Therefore, the likelihood of additional costs associated with delivery is high.
The US lacks transparency on the cost of medical procedures. With no set standards of what a medical procedure will cost, each state and even each hospital has different averages they can charge for the cost of a C-section. So how can you plan for this huge financial cost when there is almost no transparency? Below we have two tips for you to better understand the average cost of a C-section and how to plan ahead.
Ask Your Doctor or Hospital
The simplest way to find out what the cost of a C-section will be for you is to ask. This works best when you are confident who your doctor will be at delivery and which hospital you’ll be delivering at. When I was 6 months pregnant I was able to speak with a billing specialist at my doctor’s office. They checked my insurance, asked about my birthing plan, and gave me a fairly accurate estimate of what my delivery was going to cost. This 15-minute conversation gave me insight and peace of mind into my financial obligations.
Remember that usually the hospital and the doctor charge you separately. To get the most accurate cost breakdown, speak to both your doctor and your hospital.
Checkout Fair Health Consumer
If you are unable to gather the information directly from your hospital or doctor, a great online resource is Fair Health Consumer. This website asks you to enter your zip code, and then select your type of delivery (note: they also have many other medical procedures you can check out too!). It even lets you customize your delivery costs to what you think may apply to you.
It is important to understand that no two deliveries are the same. While you can get the most detailed and accurate information ahead of time for what you think your delivery will cost, you can never fully predict your baby’s birth. There may be unforeseen expenses that you did not budget for so it is important to plan for the unexpected in regards to your medical costs, (as well as for raising children in general!).
Here’s an example:
A friend of mine located in Bend, Oregon had a planned C-section to deliver her healthy baby girl in 2021. She received two bills for this procedure, one from the hospital and one from her doctor. Her hospital bill included items such as:
- Intensive Care Unit stay (for routine recovery post-surgery)
- Laboratory costs (this line item is also standard in vaginal deliveries)
- Operating room services
- Imaging services
- Recovery room
- Therapeutic services
The total for her hospital bill before insurance was just over $13,000. She later received her doctor’s bill for roughly $4,500 which brings her total to $14,500. As you can see, her cost was lower than the national average. This is in part due to the C-section being planned. Therefore, she didn’t have additional line items |that you would see from a planned vaginal delivery that moved to a cesarean.
Besides having a higher price tag, the cost of C-sections could impact your financial situation in more than just medical bills. On average you cannot bend over for six weeks, which could create complications in other aspects of your life. Consider budgeting for the following areas of your day-to-day to make your recovery easier:
- Dog walker
- Approximately $20 per 30 minutes walk
- Baby-sitter (for older children)
- National average is $16.75 an hour for one child
- Meal delivery service
- It varies per type of food and where you live
- Average is $13 an hour
Planning Tip: Instead of asking for nursery items for your baby shower, consider asking family and friends to donate their time and services for your postpartum recovery.
These suggested areas to budget for are not mandatory and are not exclusive to cesarean deliveries. All new parents could benefit from these services in the first few weeks of bringing home a newborn.
- What is the cost of a C-section? On average $22,646 before insurance
- Reach out to your doctor and hospital before delivery to get an idea of the cost for you
- Use an online estimator like Fair Health Consumer to better understand costs in your area
- Consider budgeting for non-medical needs such as a dog walker or housekeeper
Plan for the big-ticket items and know how your spending patterns will change when you sign up for the Pasito financial workshop! Join our village of other parents and financial professionals who are here to help you through this exciting next step in your life!
Disclaimer: We try our best to provide you helpful content. However, we do not offer financial, legal, or tax advice. Please speak with a professional about your personal situation.