People Are Confused by This Hospital Bill for Baby Delivery

October 4th 2016

Almie Rose

A hospital bill posted on Reddit went viral for showing a $39.35 charge for "skin to skin" after delivery, or as the Redditor posted, "I had to pay $39.35 to hold my baby after he was born."

hospital bill baby

But that's not really accurate.

Redditor "halfthrottle" posted the bill in /r/pics not out of anger toward the American health care system, but because he thought it was funny:

"The nurse let me hold the baby on my wife's neck/chest. Even borrowed my camera to take a few pictures for us. Everyone involved in the process was great, and we had a positive experience. We just got a chuckle out of seeing that on the bill."

As another Redditor explains, it's a bit of a misleading charge. The hospital isn't literally charging the new father to hold his child, but rather for the time spent in the hospital room with the staff on hand for immediate care and assistance after delivery:

"I don't work in labor and delivery, nor do I deal with billing, but from what I've been told, it's part of the documentation. At this point, when you make skin to skin contact, your baby is well enough to not need any more immediate medical interventions at that time and can be held by the parent. This all goes along with Apgar scoring [an assessment of the baby's health at birth] and stuff like that."

But why $39.35?

Another redditor named mike_hawks deduced that it was a per-minute charge, which was also applied to the C-Section procedure:

It's minutes. Divide by 79 and it comes out to the same rate as the skin to skin. So no, OP didn't get charged extra for this, they just broke it out separately for some sort of documentation reason.

My bet is that had she not done the skin to skin contact it would have been listed as 80 minutes of C section.

One Redditor, FiftySixer, who claims to be a nurse, explained the the charge:

"As a labor and delivery nurse, I can kind of explain this. I didn't know that hospitals charged for it, but doing 'skin to skin' in the operating room requires an additional staff member to be present just to watch the baby. We used to take all babies to the nursery once the NICU team made sure everything was okay. 'Skin to skin' in the OR is a relatively new thing and requires a second Labor and Delivery RN to come in to the OR and make sure the baby is safe."

Whichever department is responsible for coding decided to label this charge as "skin to skin."

Still, American hospital bills as a whole are shocking to other parts of the world.

Canadians and Europeans are especially shocked and surprised by what Americans have to pay to receive health care, surgeries, and hospital stays. One comment professed,

"Canadian here. I've never even seen a medical bill! I had no idea it cost $13G to deliver a baby."

Which was one-upped by

"Also european here. When I have to go to hospital, I NEVER even SEE any bill at all."

Though the cost of giving birth in the United States varies, health insurance doesn't always cover the entire costs. This is something that Europeans and Canadians don't have to experience, which is why stories about unusual hospital bills in America seem so prevalent.