It's no secret that healthcare in the US is expensive, so it goes without saying that giving birth is also very expensive. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the average cost for delivery is $3,500. If one were to include additional delivery related charges and pre and post healthcare charges, the final bill can shoot up to about $8,000.
Although there is not much a mom can do about the cost of healthcare, being keen on what the contents of the bill are while in the hospital can lower her bottom line. For starters, she can request the hospital staff to give her regular updates on new charges, that way she is able to monitor her expenditure and cut down on unnecessary expenses.
Moms also need to make informed decisions; doctors and nurses will hardly help with this because at the end of the day they are also looking to take a paycheck home. Staying in a hospital for longer than the stipulated days, using more of hospital items than personal ones, requesting for specialists, and staying in private rooms are just some of the ways moms increase their hospital bills.
Of course, doctors have the mom and baby's best interests at heart, but this comes with a cost and a hefty one for that matter. It is understandable that hospitals make money in order to remain open and cater to their operating costs, however, doctors should not feel obliged to keep additional costs on the DL. Instead, they should inform mom.
Here are 20 things doctors will usually keep on the DL concerning mom's hospital bill.
20 Uninsured Moms Pay A Lower Figure Compared To Those With Insurance
Birth costs can be a burden to moms. However, one truth is that uninsured moms pay less for childbirth compared to those who have medical covers. Doctors know this but instead of letting moms know, they keep it on the DL.
As stated by Mother.ly, one reason is that uninsured moms are usually very keen; they normally refuse unnecessary interventions, which can drastically hike their bills at the end of the day. Another reason is that the majority of moms without insurance usually negotiate their bills, unlike their insured friends. Hospitals also give discounts on bills paid immediately which means uninsured moms pay less.
19 A Lot Of Free Stuff Is Usually Charged On The Bill
Hospitals have a clever way of making their patients buy items, which they would otherwise never have bought or used as stated by RD.com; and because most people like free stuff, they will gladly run towards them without giving it a second thought.
However, sometimes, moms usually pay for free items the cost of which should be included in the overpriced treatments or miscellaneous costs. As a precaution, moms should always consult with their doctors before using some of the free items given like nipple creams, meds, or numbing sprays. Hospitals mostly give free items that are from companies promoting their products in the market for the first time.
18 Billing Errors Are Common
Billing errors and price gouging are common in hospitals and most doctors know this but choose to keep such information on the DL. As claimed by Healthline, eight out of 10 hospital bills have errors and that is why moms need to check their bills carefully. Hospitals use diagnosis codes and picking a wrong code can easily overcharge patients by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Some bills may contain charges for meds that the patient did not get or treatment that the doctor discontinued after some time on a particular case but still appear on the bill. Bills may also contain duplicate charges as well as inconsistent ones. For example, a med that cost $5 on Monday can cost $15 on Friday. Moms need to be keen on their hospital bills.
17 Moms Can Negotiate Their Hospital Bill
Many people do not know this but in the US, patients can negotiate their hospital bills and often at times, hospitals offer huge discounts to patients who pay upfront. According to Healthline, 57 percent of the people surveyed by consumer reports were successful in negotiating down their hospital bill.
However, negotiations are open for moms who pay in cash or those whose insurance company is yet to receive the bill. Doctors rarely share such information with moms probably because they do not want to deal with persistent moms. Hospitals can also work with uninsured patients and offer a payment plan if they are not able to pay their bills in full.
16 Hospitals May Charge For Things Mom Has Not Used
When moms are in the hospital, they may be required to pay for items they did not use or services that they did not receive. This mostly happens when moms pick packaged procedures that include a standard set of services, as claimed by URMC. Doctors are aware of this but instead of telling moms, they choose to keep it on the DL.
A package may include charges for anesthesia, epidural, and induction fees which mom may or may not use. Mom can also be billed for tests a doctor ordered for them but were canceled later on. Therefore, it is important for moms to check their bills to ensure they do not pay for items or services that they did not receive.
15 Current Health Care Systems Reward Complications
When moms develop complications while in the hospital, their bill automatically increases because of the extra services they will have to receive. Doctors keep such information on the DL. For example, when a mother who was to have a natural birth develops a complication, she has to go for a C-section, which means that her figure will automatically increase.
According to Mother.ly, these complications often put the mother at more risk yet hospitals choose to increase her bill. During a C-section birth, mom is at risk of getting infections or hemorrhaging. The same case applies to induced labor; a mother is likely to end up in the OR. So in short, the current health care system rewards complications.
14 Using A CNM Nurse Is Cheaper Than An OBGYN
There are ways moms can keep their hospital bills low but doctors will always keep these ideas on the DL. If mom is having a natural delivery, a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) can attend to her at a cheaper price compared to an OBGYN. CNMs have special training and legal qualifications to deliver babies.
According to TheNest, nurses even advocate more for natural birth plans and encourage minimal medical intervention. Therefore, bills will not include costs for induction, epidurals or labor progression meds unless the mother really needs them. Doctors decline from telling moms this to avoid losing their jobs. However, CNMs cannot perform surgical births.
13 Nursery Care Is Not A Must
Hospitals require babies to stay in the nursery after birth but this is soon changing. Doctors agree that nursery care is not necessary when moms give birth. Nurses have the permission to take newborn babies away but just for a short while to carry out tests; after they are through, they should return the baby back to the mother.
According to BabyCenter, nursery care can be very expensive, depending on the hospital. Nursery charges vary from $450 to $900 per day; this covers things like baby assessment fee, nursery equipment like diapers, wipes, formula, and the nurse's fee. By eliminating the nursery costs, moms can lower their hospital bill by a substantial amount. Moms can use this chance with their baby to start bonding.
12 Mom Should Bring Her Own Baby Items
The hospital will be more than willing to supply a new mom with diapers, wipes, pacifiers, pumping equipment, and formula if she does not have any, but this will come to bite her when she gets her hospital bill. Doctors will also keep such information on the DL.
Most of all those baby items are usually overpriced when provided for by a hospital therefore, it is better for moms to bring their own to cut on cost. According to RD.com, most hospitals do not provide the best quality products, so if mom wants a good brand she should bring her own.
11 Some Hospitals Care More About Their Finances Than Anything Else
As much as doctors are there to treat people when they are sick, their employers are out to make money. They need this money to keep their doors open. They will try to push their operating costs to a patient, which means moms will sometimes get hefty unexpected bills even after staying in the hospital for a day or two.
However, most doctors keep such information on the DL. Hospitals make a majority of their money from offering top-notch services, a good customer experience, improving service lines, and providing inpatient, and outpatient services. However, a good percentage comes from overcharging patients, as claimed by The Washington Post.
10 Complication Rates Are Higher On Weekends
According to FoxNews, moms coming in for major elective surgeries should schedule their surgeries earlier in the week and avoid going on weekends. During the weekends, complication rates are usually higher because hospitals have lighter staffing and less experienced doctors and nurses.
Health workers like their weekends off just like everyone else, therefore the risk of mortality from surgeries on the weekend is slightly higher, about 2%. With this in mind, moms are at risk of having higher bills because of the higher rate of complications. In addition to this, moms have to spend more time in the hospital because a lot of lab work and other diagnostic services may not be available during weekends.
9 There Are Cheaper Hospitals And Doctors To Explore
Some hospitals may seem like they offer better health services by charging more but this is not the case. Moms can choose to deliver their babies from a variety of hospitals, which all vary in what they will charge. Instead of following a blind recommendation from a friend or using a hospital where a particular doctor can only operate in, moms should shop around for hospitals that suit their needs.
Most doctors will want their patients to book certain hospitals yet there are cheaper hospitals offering the same standard of services at a lesser cost. Even if moms are covered by insurance to foot their bill, they should call or conduct visits to different hospitals to find out which one is best for them in terms of pocket friendliness, as stated by Living Well Spending Less.
8 Doctors Are Not Fully Knowledgeable About Health Insurance Or Costs
Doctors are experts in everything medical. However, they may not have full knowledge about health insurance or costs so if mom inquires about the price of a test beforehand, the doctor might just have a vague amount but not the exact figure. Most doctors do not like admitting to this and prefer keeping it on the DL.
Different people handle hospital bills and insurance claims. Therefore, moms cannot blame doctors for a high priced test on their bills. According to doctors, costs are largely irrelevant compared to health care and this is why the majority of them lack awareness, as stated by FoxNews..
7 Miscellaneous Costs Are Sometimes Exaggerated
Miscellaneous costs include things like surgical products, kits, baby items, toiletries, given or used on moms during their admission period in the hospital. In most bills, the items fall in the category of miscellaneous costs and get one price. When hospitals do this, moms are not able to know whether they used a certain item or not.
Doctors know about this but keep it on the DL. Nonetheless, moms should request an itemized bill, which breaks everything down into details, as claimed by US News. With the list, they are able to see items that appear several times, specialists they never saw and items they did not use. This way, they can request whoever is responsible to remove the charges before leaving the hospital.
6 Sometimes Doctors Are Incentivized To Over-treat
Doctors may have moms’ best interest in mind but sometimes they get incentives to over-treat patients. As claimed by RD.com, there are doctors who receive a lot of pressure from their bosses to do more operations because that is where the big money comes in.
Therefore, moms in labor may find themselves going for C-sections, which they did not need, and thereafter, have to deal with hefty bills. Doctors keep this information on the DL and that is why moms should inquire from the doctor the reasons for changing their birth plans. It is also good for them to find out about a hospital’s C-section rate before choosing it.
5 Specialists Can Quietly Increase The Bill Amount
Specialist including people like anesthetists, pediatricians and assisting doctors who come to check on mom and the baby on a daily basis usually pile charges on the bill for every visit they make. Doctors keep such information on the DL even though they should share it with moms.
According to Vice, moms should always ask whether those daily visits are necessary to avoid incurring more costs. Some of the specialists just come to mom’s room to ask if she is feeling okay and the moment she opens her mouth to respond, that 10-second visit is charged on her bill.
4 Telling Moms How They Can Recover Faster Decreases Their Hospital Bills
Doctors obviously want what is best for their patients but sometimes they may withhold information so that they can keep moms in the hospital for longer, which is more money for them. Moms are well aware that hospitals charge for beds per day so the longer they stay in the hospital, the more their bill accumulates.
To shorten their stay and reduce their bills, moms with no complications can ask their doctors to discharge them as soon as is possible, as RD.com points out. Moms who have had C-sections should move from their bed either to the bathroom or around the hospital so that they can recover faster and get out of the hospital.
3 Sometimes Doctors Are Aware of Overpriced Treatments
Doctors are well aware that some treatments are overpriced and that there are also cheaper alternatives but they choose to keep such information on the DL. For example, meds given in pill form are less expensive than meds given through an IV, yet it is just as effective. Surprisingly, doctors will opt to give the more expensive option.
Although doctors know that some treatments are overly expensive, they end up doing nothing because they are not the ones in charge of setting the prices. According to RD.com, many patients who are brought to the hospital because of emergencies situations for small procedures end up receiving bills that they cannot even afford to pay because of such costs.
2 Staff Outside The Network Increases The Bill Amount
Insurance companies have an understanding with a network of hospitals, such that they allow them to offer clients cashless services and collect payment from them later. However, sometimes hospitals in the network use doctors who are not part of the team. Out-of-the-network doctors normally treat many privately insured patients and this tends to increase their bill amounts.
Doctors may be aware of such arrangements because they know hospitals outsource staff but instead of telling the patients, they keep it on the DL. Staffs that are not in the network tend to charge higher for their services, as stated by Healthline. The out of network staff sometimes even use the most expensive procedures to treat patients.
1 Opaque Prices Are Not The Best
Many hospitals offer opaque prices that patients may think are good deals but in reality, they are just rip-offs. According to Healthline, sometimes insurance companies can decide to cover all of mom’s expenses but because the patient is not aware, the hospital will keep whatever the patient has paid in cash.
Some hospitals, on the other hand, have ridiculous prices. For example, one hospital may offer a service at $5,000 while another doubles the price for the same procedure. These exorbitant prices give them the opportunity to negotiate with insurance companies. The funny bit is that higher prices do not necessarily guarantee high-quality care.
Sources: thenest.com, rd.com, urmc.rochester.edu, washingtonpost.com, healthline.com, foxnews.com, usnews.com, tonic.vice.com, mother.ly, getrichslowly.org, babycenter.com, livingwellspending.com