This couple tried to figure out how much their hospital birth would cost. It didn't go well.

This couple tried to figure out how much their hospital birth would cost. It didn't go well.
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When Johnny Harris's wife, Isabel, got pregnant, he decided to make a little video for Vox about how much giving birth in a hospital costs. He soon discovered, however, that the actual process of trying to find out those costs can be an arduous, multi-week process that doesn't even provide an accurate number when you do get a response. Basically, it's a super fun project to take on when you're also preparing for a new baby.

This couple tried to figure out how much their hospital birth would cost. It didn't go well.
Spoiler alert: They had the baby.

Harris started by trying to get general hospital cost estimates. But the information he could find varied so wildly—​he found room charges ranging from $1,000 to $11,000—​that it quickly became a dead end, because for most people whose names don't end in -ardashian, a difference of $10,000 isn't just chump change. So instead, Harris tried contacting the hospital his wife was going to give birth at. That's how he ended up in a multi-week maze of phone calls, voice messages, and dead-silent hold "music."

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Finally, Harris was able to get someone from the hospital on the phone who estimated that, after insurance, the couple would owe the hospital $347 for a birth without complications. She couldn't, however, explain any of the details of that. In the end, the couple had a complication-free birth (hurray!), but they owed more than $800—certainly much less than the $16,000 that the hospital originally billed their insurance company, but $500 more than the estimate they received. $500 isn't an insignificant amount of money for many people. 

Harris's takeaway: It would be really, really nice for consumers to be able to know how much they're going to pay before going to a hospital. Yup.

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