A video describing the cost of one woman’s childbirth in California has gone viral on TikTok, with users expressing shock at the high fees.
Giving birth is not cheap in the United States. For both natural and C-section births, the U.S. topped the list of the most expensive countries in which to give birth in 2017, according to figures from the International Federation of Health Plans.
Citing data from Hospital Pricing Specialists in 2020, CBS News reported the cost of giving birth across various states in the U.S., and though this varied widely, the national average was well above $10,000.
California is particularly expensive, the figures showed, with hospitals there charging an average of $26,380 for mothers to give birth to their child—75 percent higher than the national average. And in any state, if there are complications or an extended hospital stay, the bill can rise into six figures.
While health insurance can cover large chunks of these costs, mothers can still be left with bills of several thousand dollars that they will have to pay out-of-pocket.
All of this may come as a shock to citizens of many other developed countries, where the cost of giving birth is substantially lower or completely free—as is the case in countries like Italy or the U.K., where the state picks up the tab for care in public hospitals.
Last weekend, TikTok user linguamarina posted a video detailing her experience of giving birth in a California hospital from the start of her labor to returning home. The video can be viewed on TikTok here.
Aside from a tear that needed to be stitched, the mother’s delivery was smooth taking just 20 minutes, and she was able to return home with her newborn the following day. Whilst at the hospital she and her husband were given a private room to stay in, complete with “unlimited food”.
Two weeks later the couple received a hospital bill for more than $36,000 for the birth and a single night’s hospital stay—of which they had to pay $2,200 after insurance.
The video quickly went viral, gaining more than 14 million views, 1.8 million likes, and 33,000 comments as of Tuesday morning—two days after it was uploaded.
Users in the comment section, many claiming they were from countries other than the U.S., expressed shock at the costs incurred by the mother for her brief hospital stay.
“How do regular people with low income pay for that?” asked one user. “Serious question.”
“The most we pay in Australia is for car parking,” wrote another.