Newborn babies numbered 3.97 million in the U.S. in 2016, and each one can bring joy and love, along with some pretty hefty costs to mom and dad.
Hospitals and birth costs fall neatly into the expected category, and parents know that's a big bill that needs to be paid.
While many births are covered by family health insurance plans, costs are high for maternity care. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, U.S. hospital deliveries cost $3,500 per maternity ward stay. Once parents have to add in prenatal, delivery-related and post-partum costs, the average U.S. newborn birth climbs to $8,802, reports a Thomson Healthcare study on behalf of the March of Dimes.
At least those costs are factored into a birthing budget. Because the fact is, many newborn costs are not.
But the costs once the baby comes home are the ones that really pain parents' wallets. Turns out, they should be anticipating these expenses more than they are.
Complications giving birth can add to maternity costs and significantly so.
"Complications linked to giving birth can be a big surprise, and the variance is huge," notes Frailich. Some health plans cover birthing at 100%, others clock in at 80% or 90%, he says.
"This difference is huge when any complications arise," Frailich states. "For example, my wife ended up having a C-section, and though we had 90% coverage of birthing costs, the total hospital bills were over $60,000. We met our out of pocket maximum of $5,250 immediately for the year when that happened."
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And while health insurance costs related to raising children are no surprise (and shouldn't be), the rising costs may well fall into that unexpected category.
"The expenses of having a baby did not surprise me," notes Bradley Shaw, a digital marketing consultant at Seo Expert Brad Inc., in Addison, Tx. "What has surprised me is the costs as they grow up for sports and activities. For example, our daughter is on a cheerleading team. Between team costs, private lessons, and travel we spend $10,000 a year, easy."
"It's critical that expecting parents talk to their respective employers and figure out how much it costs to add a child to insurance," says Ryan Frailich, a financial coach at Deliberate Finances, in New Orleans. Many people assume health care costs with kids will be the same as their own monthly deductions for health insurance, but that's often not the case, Frailich notes.
"For example, my wife's employer covers 80% of her healthcare, but only 20% for dependents," he says. "The difference can often be upwards of $150 per month, and can come as a surprise to new parents."
Smaller, but still unexpected costs, come in different packages, parental experts say.
For example, when you have a child, you start to gravitate towards other parents which significantly increases the amount per year you spend on gifts.
"With every other weekend a birthday party, sometimes with costume requirements, costs really add up," says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate for Finder.com.
Below the surface costs linked to higher credit usage when baby arrives on the scene can add up, as well.
"When a family welcomes a new addition while removing an income, even if temporarily), it can take some time to get used to the new budget," says McDermott. "This can see many new parents turn to credit cards, personal or even payday loans to make ends meet in the meantime and with increased debt comes increased interest that will have to be paid off over time."
Home renovations can come into play, further adding to baby money burdens.
"As children grow, home features that may not have been a hazard when they couldn't walk can suddenly become a dangerous territory," McDermott adds. "Home improvements such as sanding sharp edges, adding high up shelves or installing gates and locks are all additional costs that can come as a surprise."
A newborn is a family blessing, and there's no doubt about that. But bringing baby aboard without accounting for rising household costs, both expected and unexpected, is a big mistake.
As Shaw puts it, "babies aren't expensive -- kids are." Keep that in mind when you start factoring in your new born baby costs.
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