With good health insurance, it only cost us $2,500 to have our baby

Woman holding baby

Meet my daughter Madeleine. She's only 3 months old but has already racked up more than $20,000 in medical expenses.

Thanks to the fact that we have good health insurance, my wife and I were responsible for less than 15% of that bill.

Before we ever considered having a child, we made sure we had good health insurance in place. Having coverage not only can affect your own finances but your child's future.

According to Childbirth Connection, the average cost of a hospital vaginal childbirth with no complications in 2009 was $9,617. For a hospital cesarean section with complications, the average bill came to $21,495.

For some, the cost can run even higher.

If you don't meet the Medicaid income threshold, yet don't have health insurance coverage, you could end up paying off medical debt for the first few years of your child's life, if not longer.

When all was said and done, from the time we went to the first visit until the time we went home with our daughter, we racked up more than $20,000 in charges. There were at least 25 trips to the doctor with copays of $50 each. Then there were blood tests, urine tests and ultrasounds that slowly added to the total.

When we had a surprise emergency C-section, that hit us with a charge of $6,137. Then there was the $3,700 for the four-day hospital stay, not to mention the absurd markups on simple things like gauze and needles.

Six weeks after the birth, we started getting bills -- pages and pages of them.

Insurance payments, contractual adjustments, $125 here, $347 there. Because insurers have leveraging power, they often negotiate big discounts for surgeries and medical services.

Our insurance company knocked the $20,000 in charges down to $12,800. When all was settled, we had out-of-pocket expenses of only about $2,800 for both our deductible and co-insurance.

Yes, $2,800 is no small chunk of change, but the good thing about having a baby is that Mother Nature gives you at least nine months to save for these expenses.

We were able to pay that bill immediately, and not owing the hospital money years down the line has been priceless. We can focus on saving for our daughter's future instead of worrying about paying off her birth.

Having to pay high health insurance premiums sucks, but if you're going to bring a child into this world, it can save you thousands.

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