The British royal baby will have a lower hospital bill than an uninsured American baby

That was a bargain.
That was a bargain.
Image: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
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Catherine Elizabeth Middleton and William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor—better known as Britain’s Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge—are about to have their second child. St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, West London, where the baby will be delivered, has started preparation, putting up no parking signs in order to stop media and curious bystanders from loitering outside the hospital.

The Lindo Wing (where the couple’s son, Prince George of Cambridge, was born) is a private facility within a UK National Health Service (NHS) hospital, which means that both the mother and the child are entitled to the free services guaranteed by the NHS and responsible only for the additional fees incurred by the luxury facility. Based on the current prices (pdf), the cost of a deluxe room (the most luxurious option according to the hospital’s website) in the wing is £5,425 ($8,000) for the first night for a regular birth and £6,855 ($10,000) for a Cesarean birth, then an additional extra £1,155 ($1,700) for any following nights (one or two nights is the standard for a delivery with no complication; with her firstborn, the Duchess of Cambridge left the hospital the day after she delivered). The cost does not include the consultation of the royal family’s gynecologist, rumored to be £6,000 ($8,800).

So a two-night stay in the hospital, plus the doctor’s fee, would cost less than £13,000 ($19,000). Since this is her second child in the same facility, the Duchess will be given a 10% discount on the total, bringing it down to about £11,700 ($17,360). Even if the Duchess were to stay in a more expensive room, as some outlets have reported, her total would be around £12,300 ($18,250). It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of UK citizens don’t opt for private facilities and do not incur any fees.

Unless complications arise, the royal child’s birth will cost less than the average American delivery—paid for out of pocket without insurance—which is about $32,000 (pdf. p.3), and goes up to over $50,000 for C-sections. Even with private health insurance, the average out of pocket expense is $3,400, and insurers negotiate with healthcare providers to pay an average $18,000 for a vaginal delivery and $28,000 for a C-section.

The bill for an American family is significantly higher if the birth takes place at a luxury facility like the royal family’s. Delivering a child at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City, where America’s version of royalty—Beyoncé and Jay-Z—had their daughter, Blue Ivy, is about $18,000 for vaginal birth and $25,000 for a cesarean (before insurance negotiations), plus $2,000 for the anesthesiologist’s fee, if one is used. On top of that, the cost of a luxury room is up to $2,400 a night (a standard room is $630 per night). This does not include other independently billed services, or the doctor’s consultation fee.

In the US, each service is billed independently rather than as a flat fee—as shown in the bill below, which went viral after the new American mother shared it online.

It does not appear that the higher price tags correspond to better care; the US has a higher infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate than its peers in rich countries.

Image for article titled The British royal baby will have a lower hospital bill than an uninsured American baby
Image for article titled The British royal baby will have a lower hospital bill than an uninsured American baby