By Jenny Gold
Kaiser Health News
Everyone knows that real estate is no bargain in Northern California. It turns out that giving birth ain’t cheap either.
New research on the cost of childbirth in the nation’s 30 largest metropolitan areas ranks Sacramento and San Francisco as the two most expensive for both vaginal delivery and Cesarean sections.
Sacramento is No. 1, San Francisco No. 2.
The study, based on private health insurance claims from this year and other data, shows the totals actually paid for childbirth by employees and employers. It was conducted by Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based health care information company that analyzes medical costs to help consumers and purchasers compare prices.
A vaginal delivery costs an average of $15,420 in the Sacramento area and $15,204 in San Francisco — nearly $4,000 more than the third-most expensive location, Minneapolis. In the least expensive metropolitan area, Kansas City, a vaginal delivery costs $6,075.
C-sections are even more expensive, costing an average of $27,067 in Sacramento — nearly four times as much as in Pittsburgh, the cheapest city. San Francisco had the second highest cost for C-sections, at $21,799. San Diego came in fifth at $16,810.
The data show that prices vary widely even within the most expensive regions. In San Francisco, for example, the cost for a Cesarean delivery ranged from $8,399 to $41,191 — a five-fold price difference. Patients, however, rarely know how much a procedure will cost until they receive the bill.’
“It’s a black box when it comes to pricing in health care,” said Kristin Torres Mowat, a Castlight senior vice president. “There is not a rational explanation for this kind of variation for similar procedures in the same geography. It highlights how inefficient the health care market is.” [Read more…] about If you want to spend a bundle on your bundle of joy, go to Northern California