Unnecessary Delivery Room Charges {I paid what? For what?!}

“I feel a blog post coming on,” is what my husband said as I was reading to him some of our hospital charges.  He was right.

You’d think that with our fifth baby we’d know better, but it honestly wasn’t something I’d thought about before.  When I received our hospital bill after baby #5, though, I called to get an itemized list.  Delivering a baby isn’t cheap, and I wanted to know what cost so much!

Secretly, I was hoping they had wrongly charged me for an epidural that I didn’t have or something else that would reduce our bill, but we didn’t get that lucky.  The charges that bothered me were rather insignificant in the grand scheme of a few thousand dollars, but still.

Dermoplast spray (that I never used) ~ $11.00
Lansinoh cream (that I never used) ~ $16.50
Witch hazel pads (that I never used) ~ $12.50

I remember my nurse setting those things on the vanity in my room, and I remember them telling me to take everything home with me, but I had no idea I was being charged crazy prices for things I didn’t even need!  And if I did need them, I certainly could have brought a supply with me or had my husband run to the store real quick.

The 600 mg ibuprofen that I received was $2.50 per pill.  Stool softener, $1.50.  Per pill.  Hmmm, pretty sure we could have grabbed a bottle at the local pharmacy for the cost of a couple of pills at the hospital.

Again, in the grand scheme of things, those charges may not be much.  But for someone who doesn’t have insurance or has a higher co-pay, or just sees red when she pays for something she doesn’t want or need (me!) it’s annoying.

If your due date is near and you’re headed to the hospital for delivery, you may want to put the above items on your “to pack” list, and then refuse them at the hospital.  And lesson learned:  always ask for an itemized list of charges.

Have any of my experienced mom friends found unexpected charges on your hospital bill?  Do tell!



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  1. With all three of my c-sections, I caught inaccuracies with the bill. The first birth, I got charged for operating equipment like staples that were never used. The hospital adjusted my bill and added a 10% discount (for asking).

    For my second child, I was charged for 3 blood draws when I only received one. I got my bill adjusted, but no additional discount.

    My third delivery brought charges for lactation consultations that never transpired. I was charged $75 for one visit and $150 for a phantom second visit. That bill was addressed with financial executive. I got the bill adjusted and subtracted from my deductible.

    You are right, Amy, always get an itemized bill and check it for inaccuracies. The hospital does not send it routinely because more patients would find errors.

    In addition to the other items you mentioned, I took my own diapers and wipes. My doctor prescribed my medications which I brought with me to the hospital. All these little charges add up to savings when preparing for your big day. On a side note, my hospital offered free massages after delivery, but you had to request it – which of course I did. <3

  2. Michelle H. says:

    Baby #2 spent 12 days in NICU. We requested an itemized bill just because we were curious to see how much it cost per day for him to be there. $685 a day just for the basinette. We could have got him a room at the Four Seasons hotel for that. And the hospital charged us for 2 circumcisions. Needless to say we called to get that taken off. : )

  3. UGH! We had a total nightmare with billing for my 1st child. I did get an itemized bill and found I was charged for 2 deliveries, 2 epidural kits, and 2 something else. I told them they either needed to adjust my bill or send me my other child! 😛 We were also charged for a private room when we had a semi private. Ultimately, THREE YEARS LATER!!!, all charges were dropped and we didn’t have to pay any of it, but by then we were already paying on my next child. :/ Needless to say, we ALWAYS get itemized bills now.

    • WOW!! That is crazy that no one caught the double delivery error before the bill was sent. It makes you wonder if there are any human eyes looking at accounts anymore.

  4. YES!! We’ve had the same problem. Always ask for an itemized list. We found that I was charged $90 for something I would get free at the doctor’s office. 🙁

  5. For my third child I had gone into pre term labor twice so when the actual labor came I told my husband I wanted an epidural! Recieved one at 2am but anesthesiologist didn’t hit the spot and was charged $2500.00. Tried to fight it but we had insurance and they wouldn’t budge.

  6. I worked full time right up to the birth of my first child. My husband and I were on 2 different insurances, but since I was planning to stay home with the baby, we put the baby on his insurance. The hospital (and my insurance) ASSUMED that the baby was on mine and what a hassle it was to get it changed. The hospital billed and the insurance paid and then backed out when we clarified that my son wasn’t insured through them. It was months and months of phone calls and frustration on my part before both insurances and the hospital were straightened out.

    If you have 2 different insurances, make sure you clarify (frequently!), before, during and after the birth whose insurance the baby will be on.

  7. The real kicker is the fact that if you pay or have insurance, you (or your insurance) is charged much more than if you had some type of government insurance. When you pay $11 for that can of dermoplast, you are paying for yours and for the person who will never pay their hospital bill as well. My son was in the NICU for 20 days after he was born and they billed our insurance for over $65,000 between the hospital and the doctors. He was never on a vent or anything major other than a couple of ultrasounds. However, because we had private insurance, my son’s level of care was better than the babies that were had state insurance. Our insurance was more than happy to send my baby home with an apnea monitor. The baby next to him had to stop breathing for more than 20 seconds before that was considered for him. The doctors wouldn’t release him without it. The state insurance had rather pay for expensive hospital care than to rent a monitor so he could go home with his family. Insane! (This was almost 12 years ago, so I am sure the costs are higher now!)

  8. With my first, I had a third degree tear and boy did it hurt, so when they offered my ice packs (gloves filled with ice), I gladly took them….then I got the bill, $2.50 per glove filled with ice (x a bazillion)………ARGH.

  9. Deborah Jennings says:

    They have been doing this for years. And not just for births. My daughter just recently had to have some tests done and they had to give her a shot for pain. She said they must charge “Street Value” for the meds that they dispense. This daughter doesn’t even take Tylenol unless she is in severe pain.

    I’m not sure why hospitals charge so much. It makes no sense to me. $1,500 for an MRI? I don’t want to buy the machine! And if you have NO insurance, they charge less than if you have insurance. It sounds to me like they are punishing the people that can afford insurance. Is this a double standard to you? Shouldn’t it be just one price for everything? OK, through ranting for now.

    • Hi Deborah,
      My husband and I are cash pay and have been for years. Insurance is just too much money and we’ve been able to afford two deliveries, two miscarriages, and a slew of other things. In our state (NV) if you don’t have medical insurance the hospital automatically slashes the cost in half (it changes yearly). My husband owns a small private practice physical therapy office where we live and the only thing we can say is if we can get money up front for services rendered we tend to discount tremendously. Insurance billing is a pain and we’d rather not waste our time on a claim that 50% of the time comes back denied for some reason or another. Insurance is a racket. I feel so bad for people who pay their premiums monthly (often a very high price), and then have to pay out of pocket for their percentage. Cash has been the way to go for us. We use Samaritian Ministries as our insurance…it’s worked very well.

      • Deborah Jennings says:

        Jackie, we pay cash for most purchases, but we do have insurance. We couldn’t afford to buy our meds or go to the doctor without it. And as for hospital stays, we’ve never had to pay one cent, not to the doctors. My husband had back surgery several years ago and the hospital bill was over $32,000. No way we could have paid that up front! BTW, we are both retired now, so we have limited income.

    • ” I don’t want to buy the machine! ” Ha!

    • I recently had an abdominal xray urged by my OB for a “lost IUD” and we had to pay over $1000 for this SINGLE xray. Our insurnace covered most of it, but the hospital wants $350! I used to work in a doctors office where our abdomial xrays only cost $70! Hospitals are SERIOUSLY price gougers!!

  10. AY YI YI. Can you bring your own meds and not take the hospital’s? I never get anything stronger than Midol post-delivery anyway because otherwise I would be passed out and never see my baby.

    Given our very high deductible, I’ll definitely be checking the bill with #3!

  11. Whew! I’m even more convinced to do homebirths if I ever get the chance. All of $2500 and I don’t even have to leave my own bed.

  12. @michelle-that $685 covered not just the bassinette but also part of the nursing care. The $1.50 per stool softener covers the drug itself as we’ll as the pharmacist dispensing it and the nurse administering it. I agree the costs are ridiculously high.

  13. Most hospitals don’t allow you to bring your own meds for liability reasons. I used to work for a dr and I have to say (at least in the office where I worked) that it’s not true that those with no insurance are charged less! Insurance companies get contractural write-offs for things. So for something that we charged $56 for, the person with no insurace pays the full amount, while someone with insurance pays $20 copay and the insurance company pays $29 for a total of $49 charged.

    • I would like to add, though, that self-pay patients are much more likely to get discounts–even 30 – 40% off the original bill–if they kindly call to ask. I was self-pay up until this past year and loved it! Granted, I was part of a Christian Healthcare Sharing plan that I really appreciated (samaritanministries.org). Now I have to work with real insurance and it’s not much fun.

    • My daughter had to go back into the hospital the day she came home and since she was released she had to go to the pediatric floor. For the two days we were there the actual charges were about $3300, but since we had insurance the contracted amount was $18,000. I had to pay my percentage off of the contracted amount, so yes they charge more to insured patients over non-insured.

  14. I’ve never gotten itemized bills, but I’m thinking that I should for my husband’s baby (kidney stone) that was just removed on Friday. I wonder if I can call the hospital, or if he has to do it…

  15. I was charged for a C-section after having a med-free, vaginal birth attended by a midwife. Yikes! Thankfully, my midwife caught the mistake before it was sent to my insurance, so it was very easy to clear up.

  16. This is a good reminder to pack EVERYTHING I think I might need! Especially when after baby #2 I was charged $15 for a toothbrush/toothpaste…I wonder if the secretary or whoever’s in charge of setting prices just rolls on the floor laughing whenever s/he marks that price on someone’s bill: “We’re gonna get $15 for a measly toothbrush from this completely unsuspecting victim…I mean, helpless patient!” ha.

  17. i was charged $300 for over the counter pain meds – that i didn’t even take! seriously, $300 for motrin, which i refused when the nurse brought it to me.

  18. That’s crazy, and is especially annoying if you’re self-employed and don’t have maternity coverage. It always annoys me when people that babies don’t have to cost much – the delivery alone is quite expensive!
    I have a question for you. I have no kids yet, but I have lots of friends who have had babies recently. Most of them take the babies out in public (grocery store, church, wherever) after a couple weeks when they are feeling up to it. However, a few mothers have told me the doctor said they shouldn’t take the baby out in public for six weeks because of their immune system (even if they are exclusively breastfed). That means the mothers cannot really go anywhere outside their house for six weeks! I’m curious, how many people actually follow that advice? What are your thoughts?

    • Jennifer Young says:

      Laura – the docs say that for winter babies because pretty much everyone is sick or carrying a bunch of sick germs around. And you don’t want a sick newborn. I don’t think they usually recommend it for babies born in the other seasons. That’s been my experience.

    • Actually that’s wrong. A babies natural immunity is at it’s highest at birth and drops to it’s low at 6 weeks before building back up. I took 2 of my newborns (both born in December) to big family Christmas gatherings (one at 9 days old!) and passed them around.

      I took my babies out and about all the time. I tried to limit their actual physical contact with most people outside the home (where I had more control over hand washing, etc).

    • I always took mine out as soon as possible…and I have 3 kids that rarely get sick now(ages 15, 13 and 5)

    • I’ve honestly never had a doctor tell me that with any of my 5 babies. I do try to keep my babies either in their carrier or “wear” them close to me so that people will keep their germs to themselves a little more. 😉

  19. Although you should check with your hospitals policy about bringing in drugs. After checking our bill we asked our midwife which things we didn’t need for next time, but when we were at the hospital for #2 we got “in trouble” by the nurse for self medicating. Her point was that they want to know what and how much you are taking. So keep that in mind.
    Also, our midwife had not seen an itemized list of our 1st birth, so it was interesting to her to know what they charge for what, plus she found some additional things that we had not used

  20. Is refusing stuff even an option?
    With baby #1 his overall bill was $304,000. Since we have a cap of $5000, I figured we got our money’s worth even if we had 50 grand worth of unused stuff. With baby #2 the hearing test lady pushed her stuff in on a cart packed full with newborn diapers. My 28 month old stole them, used them like blocks and then didn’t put them back. Away she went without the diapers so we went home with 6 packs!! haha, yeah I know that was probably pushing it just a bit, but I figured it offset the absurd cost of the ibuprofen and tylenol and gauzy undies. 🙂

  21. Wow… Just wow.

    I’ve never been so happy to live in a country with free health care that rates amongst the world’s best.

    During my pregnancy I underwent weekly ultrasounds, daily blood tests, fortnightly OBGyn consultations, a variety of hormone replacement therapies, a variety of hospital stays and tests for different issues plus a Caesarian with a private room for a week after.

    I paid exactly $0.00

    Even in the last three months I’ve probably cost the government thousands of dollars because of my heart issues, and I’ve only had to pay 25% out of pocket for the consultations themselves. Last week’s operation to implant a Reveal monitor next to my heart was… $0.00

    And while I’m 1600kms away for all of this (the flights for which were paid by the government), my son has gone into full time care – which is 100% subsidised during my recovery by the government.

    On the flip side, we, as a household, paid nearly $60000 in taxes last year, so realistically I can see where that money came from…

    But $1.50 PER PILL? They charge you for that?

    I’ll take my tax bill over no free medical system.

  22. Please please do not take your own medications in the hospital without your nurse knowing you’re taking them. As a nurse, I need to know what medications my patients might be taking–even something as simple as a Tylenol. Medications can cause side effects that were something to go wrong, the nurse/doctor/midwife MUST know about to know how to treat.

    I just had a baby myself this summer, and I am still getting bills from different people. I totally agree that prices are out of control, but it’s not worth the risk of your life or your baby’s.

    Everyone should ask for a discount when paying bills–I received anywhere from 10-20% off my out of pocket for my bills when I paid them in full. And that’s after my insurance.

  23. Wow! The total amount billed to our insurance for my son’s birth was $15,664, but I never got an itemized bill because they pay for everything after the deductible (which we had already met) and the circumcision.

    I did learn that if there is a procedure that insurance refuses to pay for, then just tell them that you are self-pay for that procedure and the hospital automatically knocks 30 percent off of the price. Which totally makes sense because insurance companies NEVER actually pay the hospital the amount they bill for. They pay a much lower negotiated rate, so the hospital should give consumers the same courtesy of the lower rate they give insurance companies.

    • Deborah Jennings says:

      My first baby’s total cost was less than $1,000. That included the $200 for the doctor. BUT, this was in 1968. The next year it was more, with my second. And then three and a half years later, It had doubled! Not just the cost of the hospital, but the Doctor’s fees, too.

  24. Kelly Ross says:

    Ladies, demand public healthcare from your elected officials. I live in Ontario, have had two children (one via induction with epidural) and one all natural, and I paid zero for both of them (I had to bring my own baby diapers and maxi pads once I was off the super jumbo ones right after birth. And yes, I selected where I wanted to deliver, and my own OBGYN myself from the moment I realized I was pregnant. Just sayin’…….

    • Deborah Jennings says:

      I don’t want Public Healthcare. Sorry. But I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t have a CAT scan or and MRI when I need one to see what is happening in my brain. And that did happen in Canada!

  25. Amy, thanks for the post as I am due in just three weeks so I will pack accordingly for this delivery and ask for the bill later. We will see if I have a follow up story to contribute as well.

  26. Wow! I feel very irresponsible now. My husband’s insurance was so good that we really didn’t have any expenses for 3 C-sections. I never asked for an itemized bill because insurance was paying for it. I should’ve checked the itemized bill anyway. Maybe I could’ve kept costs down for someone else?

  27. Hey, I think you actually got a good deal! We were charged $143.25 for Dermoplast and $63.25 for Lansinoh for my wife’s birth. I complained to the hospital and they told me that those prices are standard for our region (Colorado). Not to mention the $1,000 PKU test they did for my daughter which they are supposed to send to the State for only $90. Been fighting all of that for almost a year.

    We’re self pay and they begged us for months to take the “help” from the tax payers which would cover our whole bill. No thanks! My neighbor shouldn’t have to pay for me to have a baby.

  28. Amy (another one) says:

    I understand your frustration with the high bills, but on the flip side, our son (born at 27 weeks) was in the NICU for 80 days. Our bill was over $300K. I got an itemized listing, just so we’d have the record, and would pay every penny all over again to have this little one in our lives. He’s a joy, and, to be honest, even if we were over charged for something, he’s worth it.

    • Oh, absolutely! Charges are small potatoes when we’re talking about LIFE, but gosh… if I can save someone some cash, I’ll try to do it. 🙂

  29. I just recently went to the hospital to have my baby monitored because her heart beat wasn’t found in the office, when I got the bill they had charged me $350 for a drug test that they didn’t even inform me they were doing, so I called and let them know no one had done a drug test and the lady let me know they don’t tell you they are drug testing you they just use the urine sample that I was told was used to “detect ketones” and run a drug screen on it! I don’t care about being screened for drugs and after going through nursing school wish it was mandatory for every woman to be screened but geeeees really you charged me $350 dollars and couldn’t even explain after I passed it that y’all do it?!

  30. The reality is, if its in your room, used or not you will be charged for it. The are not allowed to reuse anything that has been in a room. If there is a way to request to not have something before that would be the way to go.
    As for your own medication, yes your nurse should always know what you are taking, I know some Hospitals that require the nurse to take it to the pharmacy and have it labled and the have to dispence it to you anyway and will charge you for that, this includes diaper and breast creams.

  31. I know this is an old thread, but in the hopes that anyone is still reading…

    Got the bill for my vaginal delivery in September. The total came to $16,442 for the vaginal delivery and 2-day hospital stay, with another $1,438 for some tests that were run the day before, trying to decide whether or not to induce. By far the largest charge on there was a whopping $4,492 for “operating room services – general classification.”

    Does this mean they had a c-section team standing by or something? Is it normal to be charged for operating room services when having a vaginal delivery without pain meds?

    • Whoa! That seems pricy. I have no idea why you would have “operating room services” for a vaginal delivery. I would call the billing department and ask them specifically what that means. Hopefully it’s a mistake! (Wouldn’t be the first… 😉 )

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