Babies aren’t free

The New York Times posted a great piece about the cost of maternity care and delivery in America.

From diapers to cute little outfits they’ll grow out of in a minute, babies aren’t cheap. But over the last 20 years, the medical community has made it increasingly harder for parents to take home a baby debt free. Hospitals and clinics itemize each test, screening and treatment, rather than offering pregnancy and maternity “packages” and insurers can opt out of paying for prenatal and maternity care.

So, let me take a break to get this straight… insurance companies needed the Affordable Care Act to tell them to cover birth control and they can still opt out of paying for prenatal and maternity care. So if you don’t want to get pregnant you have to pay for it and if you do want to have children, you also have to pay way more for it? And this isn’t the cost of the child, this is just the cost of bringing that child into the world.

Even when insurers do cover prenatal and maternity care, the co-pays and out-of-pocket costs for expectant mothers are still astronomical, especially if her pregnancy isn’t perfect. Or, as NYT reports, even if it is perfect, hospitals will charge new mothers for things they didn’t even use, because it’s standard procedure.

Call me a liberal socialist hippy if you want to, but I believe that parents should get to worry about things like what color to paint the nursery and not, “Can we actually afford this baby? Will bringing this life into the world send us to the poorhouse? How long will we have to pay for this child? Can we have a second or third?”

We already live in a world where children are ridiculously expensive. Between advertisements and other kids at school and in the neighborhood, it costs a lot to be a “normal” kid — the kind that doesn’t get bullied and teased. Diapers aren’t cheap, and neither are other babyhood essentials.

It’s kind of frightening to think that one child will probably cost more than the house you live in, when you figure in prenatal and delivery costs, plus all of the money spent feeding, clothing, educating and caring for it.

And that’s for people who can conceive easily. Tack on the cost of fertility treatments, which are usually not covered by insurance, and that baby could cost you more than two houses.

And people wonder why covering birth control is important… another child could literally break a family financially.

If wanting a family is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, why is it so expensive?