Childbirth in the US is expensive. In fact, this 2013 report identifies the United States as having the most expensive child birth cost in the world. Regardless, there are people who prefer to have their babies in the US for personal reasons.
That being said, travelling to the US for childbirth is not illegal.
I looked up the cost of giving birth in the US and came up with some findings. This guide is for both first time travellers and those with previous international travel history. At the end, a full breakdown of costs will be given.
If you are planning on having a child in the USA, here are the main things you need to budget for:
- Hospital and associated medical bills
- Getting a visa
- Child documentation
- Flight tickets
- Feeding and miscellaneous
Those who have been down this road before estimate that one will need between $10,000-15,000 for hospital bills alone. There are cases where, with diligent research, people have paid less. As ‘less’ as $5,000. Accommodation costs can be reduced or totally removed where one stays with relatives or friends, although Atoke from BellaNaija warns against being an inconvenience to cut costs. Some other expenses are dependent on necessity and personal needs of parents.
Getting a doctor and hospital
The main criteria in getting a doctor and hospital is fees. Booking an appointment with the doctor is crucial as the doctor’s correspondence will be required during visa interview. Another factor to consider is the proximity of the hospital to where you plan on staying.
Delivery cost vary with birth process. A vaginal delivery with no complications will be cheaper than a c-section. Epidural births come at extra cost. Apart from hospital bills, there are bills for doctors, scans, tests etc.
The total bill is one that, in many cases, exceed initial estimates provided by hospital.
According to costhelper, the average for a vaginal birth without complications is $9,000-$17,000. A c-section or vaginal delivery with complications averages between $14,000 and $25,000. Geographical location also plays a role as costs are lowest in the south and highest in the Northeast/East coast.
With this in mind, it is important to search for the most pocket friendly alternative. For a list of pricing and financial information on some US hospitals, click here.
Complications during births can have fees shooting through the roof. To be on a safe side, we picked a cost estimate of $10,000.
Get as much required tests and scans done here. The price is always higher in the US.
Since you’re paying in full, bargain for as much discount as the hospital can offer.
DO NOT accept Medicaid or any form of government sponsorship. You do not pay taxes to America and is not entitled assistance. Accepting it might hinder future visa applications.
After childbirth, try as much as possible to be quickly discharged from the hospital.
Make sure you get ‘zero balance’ from the hospital after paying all bills.
To enter the US for childbirth, you will need a B1/B2 visa. To learn more and begin processing this visa you can visit the US Embassy Nigeria page. You will be required to pay a non-refundable visa application fee.
For others who have gotten a two year B-visa in the recent past, renewal can be done via Dropbox.
Total (visa only): $160
Visa interview tips:
Your intent for travelling (tourism/visit and child birth) should be clearly stated during interview. Playing ‘sharp guy’ will come with consequences in the future.
Make sure you have all necessary documents and proof of enough funds.
Documents and answers provided should show you have good enough ties with Nigeria.
If renewing via Dropbox, it is important to send a ‘letter of intent’ explaining you’re going for childbirth. Especially if your previous visa was not for childbirth reasons.
An average delivery will need the mother to stay at least six weeks (2 weeks before and 4 weeks after delivery). Accommodation is best provided by family and friends. If you’re lucky, you could get a baby shower as a bonus (ok, I’m joking).
Should you have no one to stay with then you can rent.
A good service to consider for this purpose is Airbnb. Airbnb has a vast reach and many options to choose from. Not only can you get cheap options when you book ahead, it’s possible to get one close to hospital of choice. Intown suites is another service provider that covers about thirty states. Accommodation options can start from as low as $50 a night and $270 a week. A six week stay at $270 per week gives $1,620.
After birth the next is to get your child’s documents. These include; birth certificate, American Passport. Social security number, Nigeria Passport and visa. Birth certificate is gotten for about $30. Application for both passports are more expensive if expedited. An expedited America passport (within 8 days) costs $180. The Nigeria passport goes for $167.
If unable to get a Nigeria passport, you can apply for an Emergency Travel Certificate costing about $300.
Flight fees are dependent on several factors. Some airlines have long stopovers and poor user ratings but fairly good prices. Always confirm airline policy on pregnant women/infants before booking.
To get cheap airlines, recommendations from friends is the best bet. A call to the local travel agent could also generate good options. From wakanow, a one way Emirates Airlines economy class flight from Abuja to New York (JFK airport) costs $923. A one way trip (mother + infant) back to Abuja costs $1,564 with Turkish Airlines.
Feeding and Miscellaneous
Feeding, shopping and other unforeseen expenses make up our miscellaneous. In-city transportation comes in here too.
Total cost: $2000
Hospital bills $10000
Child documentation $550
Grand Total $16,817
Bear in mind this is an estimate and can be reduced. Staying with family and hospital bill of $7,000 will reduce the above by more than $4,000. If possible, try to have like $15,000 before planning this trip. Hospital bills have been known to throw surprises at people.
Better to be safe than in a bad position. This is not our prayer.
Wish all our future mothers towing this path a hitch free birth.
Ever given birth in the US or have questions for us? We love to hear from you.