Why 3 hospital bills for childbirth went viral this year

The cost of having a baby in a U.S. hospital is rising, with recent research showing privately insured families spent an average $3,068 out of pocket for maternal and newborn hospitalizations from 2016 to 2019.

Below are three childbirth-related medical bills that made headlines in 2021.

  1. In January, a Kansas couple shared the story of how they received a $270,951 medical bill after the birth of their first child — even though they're both insured. The reason for the bill is a little-known rule that stipulates a child born with double health insurance eligibility must be enrolled in the plan belonging to the parent whose birthday comes first in the calendar year.

    This regulation, known as the "birthday rule," determines which insurance will be primary for the child and which will be secondary, but premiums, deductibles and networks often vary greatly between both parents' insurance plans, so parents don't always have the option to make the more comprehensive plan their child's primary insurance.

  2. In July, a $60 hospital bill from 1955 garnered attention online. The bill, which went viral on Reddit, was from a birth and a three-night stay in December 1955 in Belleville Hospital in Kansas.

    The post was upvoted more than 10,000 times, prompting new parents to share the bills they have received, which often totaled upwards of $100,000.

  3. In September, The New York Times published a highly-shared article detailing the $257,000 medical bill two new parents in New York received following the hospital stay for their newborn, who died when she was 25 days old.

    Cigna said the couple owed more than $257,000 for the bills it accidentally covered for the newborn's care after her mother switched health plans.

    “For them, it’s just business, but for us it means constantly going through the trauma of reliving our daughter’s death,” Clayton Lane, the newborn's father, told The New York Times.

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