Is it cheaper to have a baby at home than a hospital?
Although Canada has a single-payer healthcare and much lower costs than the United States, researchers there still found giving birth at home makes better financial sense than at a hospital.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and published in the online journal PLOS One, found planned home births saved an average of $1,806 in U.S. currency compared to hospital births supervised by a midwife. When compared against a birth at a hospital supervised by a physician, the savings rose to $1,922.
The Canadian study cited research that took place during the same time period in Washington State, where the cost savings between having a hospital birth and home birth supervised by a midwife at a hospital was $2,244. If the hospital birth required a C-section, the cost savings was $4,192.
In the U.S., a hospital birth can run as high as $37,000--20 times what it cost in the late 1960s, adjusting for inflation. Costs from hospital to hospital can vary by as much as a factor of 10.
Other studies have suggested that midwives provide as good as care as physicians. However, many U.S. insurers currently omit coverage for midwives and deliveries at lower-cost birthing centers.
"Mothers are keenly interested about the safety of home birth," study author Patricia Janssen told the Washington Post. "Having a baby is a healthy process for most people. ... The best place for women is not always a hospital."