As a first-time dad, your mind is on other things than your wife or partner’s mind is. Their mind is likely racing with thoughts of, “is it a boy or girl?” and “what should we name he or she?” and “how do we set up a nursery?” You are likely thinking ”how much is this going to cost us?” There isn’t anything wrong with this, men and women think differently. And not all first time dads think about this question either; some think, “how did this happen?” or “why me?” or maybe some just have a blank mind and stare thoughtless at a blank wall for hours at a time.
It is a very common thing for men to think about the cost of things. This thought will probably occur some time right after you find out that you are going to be a dad. That is all I thought about in the beginning. My wife was going to stop working to be able to stay home with the baby after she had it, so balancing our budget was all up to me. That freaked me out a little, and while I am a macho man and enjoy being the breadwinner and all that, losing her income was going to make things tight. There is always maternity leave and day care, which are viable options, but my wife’s employer didn’t offer any paid leave, only her position when she returned. And day care would cost a sizable portion of her income, so we figured it would just be better not to deal with day care to start off with.
So I thought about the cost of having a baby a lot. Mostly about how much the hospital was going to charge, and the doctor, and the anesthesiologist, and the nursery, and potentially the NICU, and the $200 meals and on and on. I will say that we lucked out. My wife was 25 at the time and was still listed under her parents’ insurance. We both had additional coverage from my employer, so she was double covered for all of the visits and the delivery. That turned out to be a huge benefit financially, but also quite a hassle.
How much did it cost us to have a baby? Well, we still don’t know how much. It turns out that in my state, your primary insurance is the first insurance you are signed up for. In my wife’s case, that would be her parents’. I thought it was my employer’s. And none of the health care providers bothered to double check. Instead, everyone, from the delivering physician to the anesthesiologist billed the wrong insurance. A year later, which was just a couple months ago, my insurance disputed everything and got all of their money back, and the providers decided to bill me everything instead of going to the other insurance. The total billed cost was close to $10,000. *$@#!!! I was prepared to pay co-pays, the deductible, and 10% after the deductible, not ten grand.
In stepped Health Advocate, a legal entity that helps take care of messes like this (which was a benefit from my employer). They called all the right people and those people listened when they didn’t listen to me (granted, every time I called someone my blood pressure rose and I became audibly agitated and angry on the phone – we are talking about a five figure sum here).
So it is still being cleared up, but it will only be a small fraction of the total (not including the premiums paid during the pregnancy). But how much will it cost for you? It depends on a lot of things. Every state has different health care costs, and the insurance companies work differently. Is your wife or partner double covered because of her parents or her own healthcare plan? That will significantly drop the cost, and sometimes, make it zero. Is she uncovered? Depending on your total family income, the hospital will often give discounts, or even write off the total cost altogether. They often offer payment plans as well.
The costs also depend on how smoothly the pregnancy goes and how much pre-birth care is needed. Cesareans can cost up to $15,000 without complications (no insurance) vs vaginal deliveries costing around $10,000, but the price rises with problems. Extended stays in the NICU or complications for mom can baloon your bills by several thousand dollars. All of the pre-birth doctor visits and ultrasounds can cost an average of $2,000 (no insurance), so don’t forget about the nine months leading up to D-day. All I can say is pray for a healthy baby and mama!
Heath Insurance Is Key
So now you know some well documented costs. How do you set that kind of coin aside in 9 months (or less)? The most important thing to do is make sure your wife or partner is covered by some kind of insurance, and that that insurance has maternity coverage (not all plans have this). If she is not covered, find a way ASAP, as this will dramatically drop those costs to co-pays and a percentage after the deductible. The government conveniently (sarcasm) raised the health care cost deduction, so don’t expect to get a tax break from health care costs unless they exceed 10% of your AGI (for example, if your AGI is $45,000 and you have $5,475 in qualified health care costs, you can only deduct $975 – see explanation here). One way to make sure you are able to deduct taxes for these costs, sign up for a high deductible health plan (HDHP, sometimes a CDHP) and open an HSA (health savings account). The maximum contribution into an HSA for a family is $6,650 in 2015, and this is all deductible. Then use this money to pay for all pre-natal and delivery costs. Make sure you run the numbers when choosing between a PPO and HDHP, some are better than others.
If it is impossible to add insurance coverage before she delivers, work with the hospital’s billing department to establish reasonable payment plans. If there are disputes or problems, go to the hospital ombudsman. What the hell is an ombudsman? They are designated hospital patient advocates that help with disputes. I had a super positive experience with the group known as Health Advocate located in PA (link above). They know the laws specific to your area and can help you resolve issues with healthcare providers.
Feeling a little pressure? There is definitely some sticker shock with the cost of having a baby. I think that was all I thought about for 9 months. Instead of thinking “why me?” or staring at a blank wall for hours, get going on saving your pennies or enrolling your wife or partner in an insurance plan. Good luck –
What was your total bill after having a baby? Let us know your experiences with cost below in the comment section. Thanks for reading!