The cost of a baby
One of the ideas I talk about every semester in my Introduction to Sociology classes is the declining birth rate in developed countries. There are several factors that help explain the low birth rates, but one of them is the cost of children. In agricultural communities, children can be a net positive for parents – they can be put to work on the ranch or farm to make the parents money. But for most parents in developed countries, children simply cost money, lots of money. I’ve seen various estimates, but most put the cost of raising a middle-class child to the age of 18 at around $250,000. Because I consciously think about things like this, I will admit that it factored into our decision to only have 1 child; we can’t afford any more children. So, I have a pretty good sense of how much Toren will cost us to raise.
But what I didn’t know is how much Toren would cost from conception to delivery. I’ve spoken with several people who said that it was a $15.00 co-pay for their child. Wow! Lucky them! Toren wasn’t nearly so cheap. I tracked every single expense we had with Toren to get a sense of how much he actually cost to deliver. Keep in mind, I have insurance through my work and I think it’s decent insurance – not the best, of course, but decent. Here’s the rundown of expenses:
- amount billed by insurance – $26,798.17
- amount allowed by insurance – $19,565.21
- insurance discount – 36.72%
- amount paid by insurance – $13,802.83
- amount we paid – $5,762.38
Now, keep in mind that both Debi and I have a debit card through our insurance plans that receives money every month to pay for medical expenses. We used both of our cards to pay as much of the $5,762.38 that we could, but still ended up basically writing a check for about $2,000 when all was said and done.
If you want to see the actual expenses in spreadsheet form, you can download my spreadsheet here.
This illustrates some rather interesting points. First, the fact that we have insurance means we only paid about 9% of the total amount billed us for the pregnancy and delivery. There was a 36% discount off the top for having insurance, the insurance covered about 45% of the bill, our debit cards covered about 10%, leaving us with 9% to pay out-of-pocket. If you didn’t have health insurance, rather than having to pay the $2,000 or so we did, we would have had to pay $26,800. No wonder the single biggest cause of bankruptcy in the US is medical bills. If you don’t have insurance I have no idea how you could afford to have a child.
The second point is – Wow! It costs $27,000.00 to have a child? The Obama Administration is currently trying to reign in the cost of healthcare in the US. I’m certainly not lamenting the high quality of care we received – having a neonatologist on-hand when Toren was born very well may have saved his life. And having an emergency C-section may very well have saved both his and Debi’s lives. So, I’m not complaining. But I wonder how much this would cost in other countries?