We Paid Cash: Our hospital birth

We paid cash!A testimony from Lydia who blogs at Five4Five Meals

There is this book we read to our son called Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. The first line reads, “I wanted you more than you’ll ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.”

If I wrote this book for my son, the first line would read, “I wanted you more than you’ll ever know, so I did some serious saving to pay for the hospital bills.”

You see, when I was ready to have my baby I was a newspaper journalist working for cheap at a company that offered bargain basement benefits, so long before I got pregnant, we started saving.

Months later, I found myself pregnant, thrilled, and sitting in the insurance coordinator’s cubicle at my obstetrician’s office. She was telling me that my insurance was covering little and my deductible was among the highest she had ever seen. I was fully aware that my benefits amounted to a latex bandage and two chewable vitamins, not the $5,000+ it would take to have this little guy.

When I told her we had been saving for a baby her eyes grew misty. “That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said.

We started saving six months before I was pregnant, cutting out everything from sodas from the drink machine at work, to coffee to lunch outings. Because of this, we were both able to sock away $50 a week from each paycheck.

We also saved any money we got for Christmas, birthdays, tax refunds, and the cash we were graciously given as shower gifts.

At the time, my husband worked out of town a lot, so per diem checks also went in savings along with spare change, gas reimbursement checks, funds from freelance writing gigs, and a few things sold on Amazon and eBay.

When my baby boy was born the night before our sixth wedding anniversary, I was not worried where the cash would come from to pay for his delivery.

I have to be honest, there was still a fair amount of sticker shock that came when the hospital bill finally arrived and I was grateful my husband and I had padded our savings. I was even able to get a 20 percent discount from the hospital when I paid our bill in full instead of in installments. That equaled a savings of over $2,000!

Life has changed so much since our son was born, and not just because we are new parents. My husband was offered a job — out of the blue — that pays excellent benefits and afforded us the opportunity to move closer to my parents and, due to our new-found savings habit, allows me to stay home.

This has been everything I prayed for.

While the saving was tough and the bills were expensive, my son is worth every penny. Some things you just can’t put a price on.

Lydia Senn is former stressed out journalist turned freelance writer and stay at home mom, who blogs about cooking on a budget and cleaning green. You can check out her blog at Five4FiveMeals.com.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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Comments

  1. Denise says

    Thank you for sharing this story! It especially touches my heart because I am without maternity coverage and will have to do the same thing and it inspires me that I will be able to do it too!

    You have a beautiful baby! Congrats!

  2. Leah says

    This is SO beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. says

    My husband was a government contractor when I was pregnant with our third son. Tons of travel, a decent paycheck and absolutely no benefits. We paid around $10,000 in total for all the appointments, birth and hospital stay. Many times people would tell us about assistance programs at our disposal, but we opted to be responsible for ourselves and cut back much in the way you did to fund my care and that of our sweet baby.

    Cheers to you for doing it and sharing your story with others.

    • Kim says

      It is so frustrating when paying for yourslef! We were offered free assistance time after time for both of ours! I still bet offers in the mail for free assistance because our insurance is so high. Some people in the Dr office would look at me like I am nuts for turning “free” stuff down.
      Also something to save for is the immunizations shots that baby gets that first year, we paid for thos as well!

      • amanda says

        You can save lots of money by getting vaccinations at your local health department. They still cost money but the savings are phenomenal. Uusally you can just get the shots and be in and out in a short time. When my son was little we got his shots at the health department which was only 2 miles away verses 35 miles to the pediatrician. I have also found that many doctor’s office draw all of the shots up in the morning so don’t get your shots in the afternoon! A friend of mine is in charge of the local big city health department and she told me that the health department standards are a lot stricter. We also didn’t have to pay to see the Doctor or a copay just the cost of shots. Something to think about.

        • Kristie says

          Yes! We have always done our shots at the health department. I never even thought about your point that we aren’ t paying for the appointment, just the shot–but you are exactly right. In some counties, they will charge on a sliding scale based on income levels. At one time, in Michigan, we paid between $2 – $5 per shot. Here in Illinois now, we pay about $15 per shot–but it’s still lots better than $65 for the appointment and even more for the shots.

    • Pamela says

      Congratulations! Glad to hear there are people out there that believe the resposible thing to do is to pay for things yourself!

  4. Jessica says

    I love this story! Especially the part about how cutting out the little things like pop and junk food made room in your life for someone, well, worth a lot more. Priceless!

    When my DS was born, not 30 minutes after I pushed him out and his broken clavicle was assessed (he had shoulder dystocia), we got a call to the L&D room. I hadn’t even been moved to a regular room yet. Can you believe it was the hospital billing department asking my DH to come downstairs with his method of payment?!? It was 710am, my son was born at 641am. And we had UnitedHealthcare HMO insurance!

    Needless to say, I’m not returning to that hospital for the birth of my third child that is due in December.

    • says

      That makes my blood boil! I realize the situation has past but for anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation they can kindly remind whoever is requesting them that per federal law, a hospital cannot turn away a laboring mother, even if she has no way of paying them.

    • Teresa says

      Something happened to us with our 4. We had all the others at the same hospital and paid them all cash within 3 months of the births. With the 4th, I was dilated to 7 when checked at a ob visit and rush to hospital. Twenty minutes after arriving I got a call in my room. It was the admitting wanting my husband to come down and make a payment (I had already preregistered and was told nothing about a deposit at that time). The Dr asked who I was talking to and when I told her she flipped. She told them to come get it themselves as she was just about to deliver the baby and he was not going to miss it while making a payment.
      They did come to my room as NICU team, and about 10 other hospital staff rushed in to help with our baby who was still not born and had stopped breathing. The lady simply said, “I guess we will have to come back tomorrow”. I was busy pushing that baby out (still only dilated to 8) or I would have taken her head off.
      He was born with the cord wrapped around his neck and a tight knot that had cut off all his supply, but he took one good breath and was fine. They did come the next morning for the deposit. I made sure to pay them really slow when I got out. I let them know they would be the last to get paid for how we were treated.

    • K says

      My cousin had a similar experience. They wanted him to go pay them while his wife was in labor. I’m due in December, and I’ll be really upset if the hospital expects my husband to leave me to go pay them. I’m thankful that my husband does the advertising for the hospital we’re going to and knows the person in charge of the whole hospital. I’m hoping I can make a fuss if they try to be rude to me.

  5. says

    What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing an inspirational story. I am thankful for my generous insurance coverage but facing fears that it may be changing in January leaving us with much higher maternity expenses-this story gave me some hope! :)

  6. Andrea says

    Thank you so much for the encouragement! We’re considering a homebirth, which will only be partly covered by our insurance, so this is a timely post for us.

    • Anna says

      Go for it! I’ve had my 3 at home, with no maternity coverage. We paid all out of pocket, and ended up paying around $4k/ each. But compared to the average $12k locally, that was a huge savings. Plus, my midwives were so kind and caring during the whole process, including payment. If we didn’t have the funds one week to pay, they’d say “We’ll just skip this one”. They knew we’d pay it all, since we’d paid for the first baby up-front (second prenatal appointment), and either way they actually cared about us as a family and wanted to help the whole process be as calm as possible.

      • Andrea says

        Thanks, Anna. My last was born at home and I really want to have this one at home, too. We’re not as financially prepared for this one as the last, but I’m pretty confident that it will work out!

  7. says

    Absolutely beautiful.

    I can’t think of any better use for money than to pay for a birth for a precious little life! Congratulations and enjoy that sweet bundle…debt free! :-)

  8. karen b says

    Love this!!!! We had no maternity coverage w/ our children & we paid cash for all 3. We had 3 children in less than 5 years which equaled alot of money out of pocket but so thankful we didn’t have to pay payments for any of them. Its such a blessing to be able to do that. Glad to know others are able to do that also. Our youngest is now 11!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anna says

      Sounds like us! Three babies, in four years, all out of pocket. But precious children, definitely worth it all!

  9. Melissa says

    My husband and I were very fortunate to be able to pay cash for our son’s birth also. For those out there worrying about how to cover this expense, hospitals are typically willing to offer more than just a pay-in-full discount. Many facilities will offer a reductions based on your income v. expenses and some will negotiate a flat fee for services if you talk with their finance office before the birth. This was all new information to me when I was pregnant, so be sure to talk with someone at the hospital you will be delivering at — we ended up negotiating an 80% discount which made researching all of the information well worth our time!

  10. says

    I love this. We are expecting our third and I am hoping to pay for as much of it at once as possible (we have already paid in full for our prenatal care) so this really hit home for me!

  11. says

    Oh, phooey. I was JUST about to submit a “we paid cash” post about our paid-for c-section, but it looks like I waited too long! Congratulations, Lydia! You paid cash, just like I did, *and* you actually got the blog post written. I guess it pays not to procrastinate, huh? ;-) Adorable baby! Isn’t it nice to come home not owing a pile of bills?

  12. Maggie says

    I also heard that if you pay BEFORE your bill is way less. My friend told me her bill was 3600 because she paid BEFORE and the same bill would be closer to 9000 if she paid after….never hurts to ask.

    • amanda says

      I didn’t pay cash for my birth but in my instance it was a lot cheaper to wait until after my son was born to pay the majority of the bill. My doctor and the hospital both agreed to discount our bill considerably (I think 40%). If we had paid all along they would not have discounted the end bill as much. We did have a bunch of money in savings set aside for it..

  13. Suzanne says

    A tip for those of you who live near bigger cities: Sometimes hospitals have OB clinics where you are cared for by medical residents and their supervising doctors. I used these clinics for the births of 3 of my 6 children and had varying experiences. They do save a ton of money-costs were $2,400 for a regular birth $2,900 for a C-section. It includes all your Dr. visits, anesthesia if you desire it, and a 2 day hospital stay. At my hospital, you even had the choice between residents or mid-wives. It’s definitely worth checking into if you do not have maternity insurance.

  14. Terese says

    For those of you with little to no insurance a midwife attended home birth is usually around 3,000$. The midwives in our area will also barter their services for those without the wherewithal to purchase them.

    • says

      Just be aware that there is a possibility for something to happen to warrant a trip to the hospital, and budget for it.

      A friend of mine had a home birth last year and the midwife had to rush her to the hospital because the placenta would not come out (and apparently she’s going to have this problem every birth now). It’s actually a funny story because they handed the brand-new baby to the brand-new daddy and said “Meet us at the hospital when you’ve got her cleaned up and dressed!” The poor man was a little flustered.

      • Erica W says

        A complication can arise just as easily at a hospital… having a hospital birth doesn’t mean no complication, & if someone doesn’t have insurance to use for a birth & is paying 100% for a birth anyway, if they had to transfer after a birth for a placenta removal, it would be FAR less than having paid 100% OOP for a hospital birth AND a manual removal.

        Also, just because someone has a retained placenta does NOT mean they will ALWAYS have one… just depends upon what caused it to begin with.

      • says

        My midwife charges on a sliding scale, and for us it was $3500 for everything — prenatal care, her pregnancy tea, weekly prenatal yoga, the birth, and many follow-up visits afterward. Money well spent!

    • Andrea says

      The cost of a homebirth varies greatly by state, but it is definitely something to consider. It’s nearly $5,000 where I live (which includes prenatal care, but not an ultrasound). It’s definitely something to consider.

  15. Kellie says

    lol this is so fantastic and yet very odd because me and my husband just talked about this, this entire past week…. we have a wonderful little 18month old boy Jakob who’s going to need a sibling within in the next year and we were planning on trying in 6 months, we just discussed saving our taxes, cash we get from holidays and everything and start making a baby fund since our insurance deductible went up from $4,000 to $6,000! I think this is a sign for sure! and crazy crazy encouragment that I can do this….i can pay cash for my childs delivery! Thank you so so much for posting this i cant wait to share this with my husband!

    • says

      Kellie,
      I am so glad to hear that. And it can be done! While we were paying for my son’s birth, we were also paying off a mountain of credit card debt. Let me know how it all goes for you.
      Lydia @ Five4FiveMeals.com

  16. Anna says

    I am happy that this story had a happy ending and that most people do have happy healthy babies. I hope readers understand that being under insured is not necessarily the best option when giving birth. Health insurance is not a luxury in my opinion but a necessity. I am sad though because so many people have to do without health insurance or be under insured due to costs. I would strongly encourage families to consider shopping for a decent health insurance plan or even consider public assistance programs (those are health care plans too!!) before having families. I was lucky because I had good insurance so when my little one arrived at 24 weeks I had us covered. My little one’s bill’s were over a million dollars and the home care needed for months and months afterwards was costly as well. I had absolutely no risk factors what so ever and then develop PIH and almost died myself. My bills were absolutely sky high too (3 weeks in the hospital). I ended up paying several thousand dollars OOP but that was a drop in the bucket considering the all the medical bills and what they totaled.

    My first 2 pregnancies were fine, then my 3rd was complicated, and 4th was fine too. My little premie is 6 years old and doing fine. We were very, very lucky.

    Cash is great but be prepared for the unexpected as well.

    • Kristie says

      That is a very good point and a sobering reminder. I’m glad your little one is doing well. You are right that the unexpected does happen.

  17. Mel says

    We also have a high deductible but saved $1,500 by paying for my husband’s hospital stay in full. It helps give you some incentive to save for a rainy day when you realize how much of a discount you can get just by having the cash available.

  18. Kim says

    We did something similar! With our first daughter we had no insurance and paid monthly for the OB visits. When it came to the hospital bill we saved $3000 to pay upfront as a downpayment and that amount actually paid the bill off! We learned that if you pay before you leave the hospital you get a 50% discount! We were stunned and extremely grateful!
    Congrats on your son!

  19. Anne-Marie says

    We found out we were expecting our second this fall and after looking into the insurance my husband’s job provides for a large premium we have been stocking up our HSA like crazy people. Thanks for the reminder that this paying our part of the bill ASAP is the best. We really won’t be able to buy fancy bedding, a brand new double stroller, or other fun things for our first girl but the bills will be paid and then it will feel like hubby got a raise when we no longer have to stock pile in the HSA! Saving up for a new to us mini van perhaps?

  20. Emily says

    I love hearing that other people too read their bills and don’t just rely on insurance. We too paid cash for our last child and also got 10-20% off as we paid our bills for the appointments and also his deliver which ended up being very wild. We live 1 1/2from the nearest hospita that delivers and needless to say since it was not my first we didn’t make, we did make it to a small town ER where we delivered but then they ambulanced us to the bigger hospital, we ended up having to pay for ER charges x 2, an ambulance ride x 2 and also fees at the big hospital which were crazy but we had saved and were able to bring him home with out owing anything for him, no down payments or installment plans for that baby:)

  21. Pamela says

    Totally understand this!!

    Before we had children we both wanted me to be a stay- at-home mom. I worked at a job with good insurance, but my husband’s job has no insurance. So we knew we would have to purchase our own insurace, and that it would not cover maternity charges.

    Before we became pregnant the first time we paid off all of our debt and started shoveling money into savings. We planned for me to return to my job after the baby was born long enough to have my insurance cover the first birth, but we wanted 2 children so saved everything we could for the second.

    Baby #1 came along and we stuck to the plan. After I quit to be at home with him, we discovered even more ways to save money (including this blog). Then my old job offered a 10 hour a week position to me, and we couldn’t refuse the extra money. We still buy our own insurance.

    Baby #2 was born last year. We researched birth options in our area, and he was born outside a hospital at a birthing center 1 hour away from our home with excellent midwives attending. This saved us over 50% off a traditional hospital birth.

    Having children has enriched our lives in so many ways, and we love being parents. We are no longer planning to stop at 2 children. All the planning and saving has paid off so much that we know we can afford to have more children. We want at least 2 more!

    Praying and planning ahead for our future children is the best thing we have ever done. I know it every time I look at my 2 beautiful boys.

    • jennifer says

      I planned for my copays because I DO have good insurance but my hospital bill for me totaled $23,000 and for baby $5000. I cant imagine where these low prices come from. I did have a c section but planned and uncomplicated no NICU stay for baby

  22. Susan says

    Check your local hospitals and obgyn practices to see if they have a cash rate in place before you get pregnant (if possible). Where we used to live most had them in place and they spelled out exactly what was included and what different options would cost. I called around when we realized we were pregnant with our second child and happily my ob and preferred hospital were comparably priced to the others I checked on and I could stay with my first choices. That birth was far less expensive then our first with insurance in place!

    Now, when we moved and I started calling around when first pregnant with #3, most providers were caught off guard when asked about a cash rate. Some said we’d have to prove we didn’t qualify for government assistance before they’d give us a cash rate! So, ymmv depending on where you live, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Fwiw, I found costs to be MUCH higher in the new location, so keep this in mind if comparing with others. I ended up pursuing a less traditional route, though long desired (homebirth with nurse-midwife), and the births of #s 3 and 4 each cost about the same as birth #2.

  23. nancy says

    What a beautiful baby!
    What a blessing his anticipated arrival created in your lives. New baby. New home near family, and your being able to stay at home with baby.
    I wish more mom’s would take steps to make that happen.

  24. Susannah says

    We’ve had two homebirths with a midwife and are now planning a third…A lot of reasons why we chose to do this but one of them is that they are waaaaaaaay cheaper! :)

  25. Erica W says

    CONGRATS & good for YOU for paying for your own delivery!!

    We have insurance, but opted to have homebirths, which are not covered by our insurance anymore because our homebirth docs stopped practicing (they were the only providers who took our HMO plan) homebirth to focus more on family care & not births… anyway, we have paid for 2 homebirths now 100% out of pocket… not easy, but it was our conviction… & was definitely worth it!

    Yes, there can be homebirth complications as someone mentioned, BUT when paying cash w/out insurance to fall back on (which we don’t have that option to use our insurance once we choose to go out of network) for a hospital birth there can just as easily be complications… maybe even more at a hospital due to all of the micro-managing of births that they do (which is necessary sometimes, but it is not necessary as often as it is done… which is for just about every birth, low risk or not…)… YES, keep an emergency in mind, but know for a low risk mother, the risk of a complication at home is at least = to, but usually far less than at a hospital. Don’t let fear rule your decision where to birth, as hard as it may be sometimes ;).

    • Andrea says

      “Don’t let fear rule your decision where to birth”

      I so agree! If you’re healthy and the baby appears healthy, birthing at home is a great option (assuming it is legal in your state–it isn’t everywhere).

    • Christy Carden says

      I think the reason it was pointed out was not to discourage homebirths. I think the commentor was saying not to just save the $3,000 mentioned but to try to save more just in case something happened and you did have to be transferred to the hospital, like her friend.

  26. Courtney says

    I guess I never considered people didn’t pay cash/plan for their delivery like this. We weren’t planning on getting pregnant, so it was a big shock for us when we found out we were expecting. We had been saving for 2 years for a big wedding, but we decided to forgo the fancy affair so we could pay the doctors bills, do some home improvements and get the things we wanted for our new addition! It was a great decision. No I didn’t get the wedding we were planning on, but instead a small ceremony with our closest friends! We had our daughters delivery paid for when we left the hospital and had a years expenses saved up in our emergency fund…much better than a one day party!

  27. says

    We’re saving for this, too! I actually have it labeled as our “Future Kids Fund,” but I am anticipating using at least part of it for hospital bills. We’ve been married three years and started saving the month after we were married ($50-100/month). We don’t plan to have kids any time soon, but it’s so nice knowing that money is there when we need it!

  28. sheeba M says

    This is probably one of the best encouraging stories I have read in a long time…faith in steps…may God continue to bless your family!!

  29. says

    My midwife charges on a sliding scale, and for us it was $3500 for everything — prenatal care, her pregnancy tea, weekly prenatal yoga, the birth, and many follow-up visits afterward. Money well spent!

  30. Lindsey says

    That is amazing! Seriously gave me goosebumps. To see God’s hand at work is an awesome, awesome thing. Congratulations!

  31. says

    If you’re working, you might consider short term disability insurance.

    I think it cost me 9.00 a month, and it paid for a month’s or so salary after I had my first. Apologies for not remembering the details….9 years have gone by fast! :)

  32. says

    Thanks for sharing this. I stay home with our two children and my husbands job pays very little, and there is no insurance. We live in NYC, so living expenses are outrageous. I often get discouraged with our budget and our minimal savings because we never seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel…and there is very little to cut out/down. But each time I read an “I paid cash” story I get re-motivated to continue to live within our means and be satisfied with what God has given us. Congratulations on your baby boy!

    • Rebecca says

      I also feel the happiest when I look at all that God has given to me and chose to be extremely grateful. I often think of the many many people in the world that do not have access to all the wonderful things I do. I think of how thrilled they would be to live in my home, and to have clean water, sufficient food, and access to quality healthcare. It really uplifts my spirit to have a heart of thanksgiving for my blessings in life.

  33. Katie says

    Its great to see parents stepping up and taking financial responsibility when bringing children into the world and not expecting a hand out. Great post!

  34. Rebecca says

    Thank you for sharing your lovely story! We too have saved for the upcoming birth of our second child. I believe saving money for the arrival of a new life is one of best ways to steward money. If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill.

  35. says

    I love it! We also paid cash for our hospital delivery. My husband and I decided to forgo the high monthly premiums for more traditional health plans, since they didn’t really cover what we primarily use anyway (chiropractor). Instead, we opted for the high deductible health plan (HDHP) and set up a health savings account (HSA). The plan contributes $125 of our premium directly to our HSA biweekly, so right there, that’s $3250 tax-free dollars for us to use for any IRS-allowable medical expense. We also contribute $125 pre-tax dollars (about the difference of what it would have cost for a more traditional health plan) into the HSA biweekly, so that’s another $3250/year. Our deductible for our HDHP is only $3000 for self and family (in-network), so when we reached that, the coinsurance kicked in, covering 90% of our expenses (again, in-network). We were careful to choose an OB/GYN and hospital in-network, and we quickly reached our deductible. After that, coinsurance kicked in. Baby Melody was born June 9, 2012. We paid $4515.04 in pre-tax dollars for prenatal care and hospital fees (surgeon, room, labs, etc.). Remember, the plan took $3250 of the premium we had to pay anyway and put it directly in our Health Savings Account. That means, we only had to contribute $1264.04 of our own pre-tax dollars to completely cover everything. Not too bad, eh?