Hospital costs for giving birth can vary by a factor of 10

You can determine the sex of your child well before he or she is born, but when it comes to figuring how much that birth will cost, all bets are off. That's the conclusion of a study published in the most recent edition of the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine found the cost of delivering a child is all over the place, ranging from as little as $1,183 for a vaginal delivery to as much as $11,819, a nearly 10-fold difference between the least and most expensive, according to CBS News. Cesarean sections showed a similar price variation, from $1,249 to $13,688. The researchers examined almost 275,000 low-risk births at 463 hospitals throughout the United States.

Researchers were challenged to find the reasons behind the wide price ranges. Only 13 percent of the variation could be attributed to the kind of hospital or whether the mother had a C-section, according to the Washington Post.

"It suggests there may be differences in how hospitals practice and provide care. That may provide an opportunity for us to intervene," Xiao Xu, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, told the Washington Post.

According to CBS News, the study found that facility costs tended to be higher if the hospital was in a rural area, was nonprofit, had a low proportion of childbirths covered by the Medicaid program, or a lower overall number of deliveries. Higher costs--and more maternal deaths--were associated with higher rates of C-sections. The study suggested cutting the rate of C-section deliveries to reduce costs, but noted that more analysis would be required to truly make a dent in the price variations.

A study released last year urged hospitals to reduce the number of C-sections being performed, although rates of the procedure varied about as widely as the prices of delivering a child.

To learn more:
- read the CBS News article
- check out the Health Affairs stud y abstract
- here's the Washington Post article