"The average estimated facility cost per maternity stay ranged from $1,189 to $11,986 with a 2.2-fold difference between the 10th and 90th percentile," says Xiao Xu. (Credit: Joshua Blount/Flickr)

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Cost of having a baby in U.S. can vary by $10,000

The cost of having a baby in the United States can be anywhere from slightly more than $1,000 to almost $12,000 depending on the hospital, a new study reports.

Childbirth is the leading cause of hospital admission in the United States, but there has been little research on the cost of delivery in hospitals across the country.

Researchers studied data from the 2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample of 463 hospitals across the country and discovered there is a large variation in the average estimated hospital facility cost per maternity stay.

$1,189 or $11,986?

“The average estimated facility cost per maternity stay ranged from $1,189 to $11,986 with a 2.2-fold difference between the 10th and 90th percentile,” says Xiao Xu, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine. “Our results could inform discussions on potential cost-saving opportunities.”

Published in the journal Health Affairs, the findings show that hospitals with higher rates of cesarean delivery or serious maternal complications had significantly higher costs.

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However, adjustments for conventional hospital characteristics, such as teaching status, urban/rural location, volume of births, and the cesarean section rates, only explained a small proportion of the wide variation in estimated hospital facility costs for low-risk childbirths.

“Hospital practices might be an important contributor to the variation in costs, and there may be opportunities for cost reduction,” Xu says. “These may include safely reducing cesarean deliveries, increasing the coordination of care, and emphasizing the value of care through new payment and delivery systems.”

The study was supported in part by the McDevitt Award for Excellence in Research awarded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.

Source: Yale University

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