West Coast Cities Most Expensive for Maternity Care, Analysis Finds

The cost of maternity care varies greatly across the top 30 major US cities and a recent study found that the west coast may actually be the most expensive.

The cost of maternity care varies greatly across the top 30 major US cities and a recent study found that the west coast may actually be the most expensive. The study, released by Castlight Health, Inc., sought to examine the costs of maternity care—both vaginal and cesarean deliveries—among cities all across the country and discovered a wide variation in prices between cities.

The analysis is a part of the company’s greater research project titled Costliest Cities and examines the cost of common healthcare procedures across the nation, hoping to better understand what exactly employers and employees are actually spending for their healthcare.

The Costliest Babies analysis found that cities on the west coast held 3 of the top 5 spots for costliest routine vaginal deliveries as well as 4 of the top 5 spots for costliest cesarean deliveries. Both Sacramento and San Francisco were both ranked 1 and 2, respectively, in each list.

Additionally, study researchers discovered that the costs for routine vaginal delivery in 17 of the 30 costliest cities were higher than the national average, which came in a total of $8775.

“The birth of a child is such a special time. The fact that these huge price differences exists for maternity care is deplorable,” said Kristin Torres Mowat, senior vice president of Plan Development and Data Operations at Castlight Health, in a statement. “The price variances seen in both routine and cesarean deliveries reflect the larger systemic problems in our nations’ healthcare system.”

When comparing prices across state lines, the report indicated that a routine vaginal delivery in Sacramento, the top ranked costliest city at $15,420, was 2.5 times more expensive than one in Kansas City, which came in at the bottom of the list at $6075. For a cesarean delivery, Sacramento’s price of $27,067 was 4 times more expensive than the cheapest city, Pittsburgh, where it costs $6891.

In examining prices within the same city, the study researchers discovered that 1 city alone could offer a variety of prices for these procedures. In New York City, a routine vaginal delivery could cost anywhere between $4022 and $17,646. In Los Angeles, a routine vaginal delivery could cost anywhere from $4223 to $27,326, and a cesarean delivery could cost from $6232 to $42,530.

The top 5 cities for highest costs for routine vaginal deliveries include Sacramento, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Portland. The highest costing cities in the United States for a cesarean delivery are Sacramento, San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and San Diego.