Parents are sharing what it cost them to give birth in America: ‘He’s 12, I still get calls from collections’

Women are sharing the cost of giving birth in the US  (Getty Images)
Women are sharing the cost of giving birth in the US (Getty Images)

People are sharing the often exorbitant cost of giving birth in America after a viral TikTok video asked parents what age their child was by the time they were finally able to pay off their childbirth bills.

Last month, a woman who goes by the username @MsLilyFlowers on TikTok shared a clip to the platform asking: “How old was your baby when you paid off the hospital bill for having them? Mine is almost two.”

The TikTok, which has since been viewed more than 546,000 times, led to hundreds of responses from other parents, with many revealing that their hospital bills for giving birth also took years to pay off, especially for those whose children were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“13 years for my first due to an emergency C-section and a two-week NICU stay,” one parent commented. “I quit work and went on Medicaid for second [baby] to avoid a repeat as I was a full-time student and a second medical payment would have bankrupted us.”

Someone else shared: “My daughter is two-and-a-half and I still have over $1,000 left of over $6,000. They are only getting $20 a month so they can’t send it to collections.”

For another parent, two weeks of hospital bed rest when she was 34 weeks pregnant led to a medical bill for more than $155,000.

“My baby’s NICU bill for a 19-day stay was over $195,000,” she added.

The original TikTok also prompted a response from a mother of triplets, who revealed in a separate video that has been viewed more than 13m times that the hospital bill for the births of her children was more than $1.2m each.

“So I’m a mom to triplets in the United States,” she began. “They were born at 31 weeks, I spent two weeks in the hospital before they were born and they had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, where baby B was not getting enough nutrients because baby A and baby C were taking them all.

“They were born at 1.9oz, 3.3oz and 3.4oz, respectively, and they spent 62 days, 68 days and 82 days in the NICU, respectively.

“And when they came home, my final bill was $1.23m each for them, not including my own.”

According to the TikTok user, after insurance, she owed $65,000 in hospital bills, which she paid some of using her 401K.

She concluded the video: “I am a widow because my husband was killed and I will never, ever, ever be able to retire in my life.”

The responses to the original video have prompted outraged reactions over the price of giving birth in the US from others on social media, including those from countries where the cost of childbirth is free.

“The fact that people think this isn’t ludacris is beyond me. In Ireland the most you’re paying for is the parking,” one person commented.

Another parent from Australia wrote: “[My bill] was $0 because I live in Australia. And we get a gift bag after having a baby with lots of baby product samples. Feel very blessed to live here.”

“This country is so backwards it’s painful,” someone else said.

According to the American Journal of Managed Care, which cited data from a Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) report, the average cost of “childbirth admission for an individual with employer-sponsored insurance was $13,811” from 2016 to 2017, with the out-of-pocket spending ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 by state.

However, according to researchers, the price is much higher for women who undergo a C-section, with the average cost rising to $17,004.

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