June 30, 2016

How much does having a baby cost in the U.S.? The answer might surprise you…

Having a baby is a major life event, no matter who you are or where you’re from. There’s no question.

But, if anyone asked you how much it actually costs to have your baby, could you give them an answer off the top-of-your-head? That’s a much tougher question. With the biggest birth months (July and August) just around the corner, the team here at Castlight wanted to find out.

What we found isn’t encouraging.

Much like our Costliest Cities analysis proved that the cost of common medical services is all over the map, we found a similar pattern in our new Costliest Babies study.

The study found that costs are shockingly higher in places like Sacramento and San Francisco, where patients have more limited care choices due to provider consolidation. We also found huge variations in price for both routine vaginal and cesarean deliveries, both within and across the 30 largest U.S. cities.

For routine vaginal delivery:

  • Most expensive (average price): Sacramento, CA ($15,420)
  • Least expensive (average price): Kansas City, MO ($6,075)
  • Widest range (between minimum and maximum price): Los Angeles, CA ($4,223 – $27,326, a 6X difference!)
  • Highest price observed: San Francisco, CA ($28,541)
  • Lowest price observed: San Diego, CA ($3,243)

For cesarean delivery:

  • Most expensive (average price): Sacramento, CA ($27,067)
  • Least expensive (average price): Pittsburgh, PA ($6,891)
  • Widest range (between minimum and maximum price): Los Angeles, CA ($6,232 – $42,530, a 7X difference!)
  • Highest price observed: Los Angeles, CA ($42,530)
  • Lowest price observed: Pittsburgh, PA ($4,419)

These results underscore the need for employers to engage their employees in better health decision-making. Castlight’s health benefits platform empowers employees to do just that by providing a simple, personalized, and powerful way for employees to shop for and manage their healthcare, including maternity care. Castlight’s unique features include:

  • Cost and quality navigation
  • Single view into health benefits
  • Personalized Care Center

For more information on how you can drive better employee engagement (up to 87% achieved with Castlight)check out our Solutions page.



The primary source of data used for this analysis is medical claims data. Castlight supplements this data with other data including:

  • Publicly available data
  • Provider information, and actual provider rate sheets that list the negotiated price between a provider and an insurer.
  • Castlight then applies proprietary algorithms to obtain the provider prices used for this analysis

Prices are defined as the employee cost-sharing plus the amount paid by the employer.

Pregnancy prices depend on the method of delivery (vaginal or cesarean). Here are the procedures and services included, regardless of the delivery method:

  • Included: Prenatal office visits, required ultrasounds, delivery, hospital stay, one visit after delivery
  • Not included: Tests, elective ultrasounds, imaging, medicine, anesthesia

Note: Displayed prices are representative of in-network providers.

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