Finding piles of old documents can be a chore, but it can also be a wonderful insight into what our parents’ lives were like. Old grocery lists, army papers, or scrapbooks can be windows into the world of the past. A recent trend on social media has been making the rounds and it’s really interesting. People have been posting their parent’s and grandparents’ old hospital bills from when they were born and the prices are shockingly low.
Today, a birth can be a hugely expensive undertaking. Hospital charges can be hard or impossible to calculate beforehand, costing thousands of dollars or more and there are surprises at every turn for some patients. A couple in Utah in 2016 was charged $40 on their bill to simply be allowed to hold their new son after he was delivered via c-section.
But, flash back to previous eras and you’ll find simpler bills and much, much lower costs for a hospital stay after a birth. The bill below is from the 1950s for multiple days stay. The cost after insurance was $10.75 and that included oxygen and an incubator. $10.77 adjusted for inflation today is $101.96.
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Elaine just had to share this…her grandmother’s hospital bill from her mother’s birth in the late 1950’s. Four nights stay for a vaginal delivery and total bill of $185 (patient responsibility was $10.45). What a steal! #vintagehospitalbill #affordablehealthcare #incubatorfee
This bill is from 1961 for a c-section delivery. The final cost to the patient was only $80.75 for nine days in the hospital and lists a phone fee of $4.60 – she must have asked for room with a phone. The total cost before insurance was $418.85. In today’s money that would be $3,552.86. For reference the average new car in 1961 cost $2,850.
Thread: A birth story.
This is the hospital bill from when I was born on this day in 1961. My mom had a c-section. In 1961, that meant spending 9 days in the hospital. Nine days at $26 a day. (1) pic.twitter.com/w57lalzj00
— melissa block (@NPRmelissablock) December 29, 2018
From 1947 comes this bill which was $54.00 for a 4-day stay. No health insurance was listed. That cost after inflation would be $634.88 in 2019. A new men’s Bulova watch in 1947 cost $52.50 so the total hospital bill cost only slightly more.
Nostalgia on Health Costs…Guess what dear parents paid for my 1947 birth, w anesthesia, 4 hospital days, etc. Here’s the bill. pic.twitter.com/QDwct5KRXK
— Taylor Branch (@taylorbranch) June 17, 2017
Go back to 1968 and the costs are $406.80 for a 5-day hospital stay, which would be $3,015.52 today. A new refrigerator in 1968 could be had for around $200.
One of the commenters on the image below said his grandparents’ bill in 1936 was $36.00 which they paid 50 cents a week on until the entire bill was satisfied (which would be $659.42 total today).
The hospital bill for my dad’s birth in 1936: $36.00. Grandparents had no insurance. They paid 50 cents a week on the bill.
— Taxpayer1234 (@Taxpayers1234) July 30, 2018
In 1954 one couple in North Dakota was charged $99.84 with $2 listed for x-ray services (as posted to Reddit). That same charge today would be $938.18 adjusted for inflation. A manufacturing job at the time would have yielded on average $71.86 per week or more.
Among the possible charges listed (but not used) is the hospital barber!
Another Reddit user posted the bill from his father’s 1955 birth. The total cost was $87.65 for 5 days in the hospital, which comes in at a mere $829.81 in today’s money. Average monthly rent for that year was $87.00.
A commenter on this image recounted their wife’s recent 7-day stay in hospital for a birth as a staggering $112,000.
It really makes you think: if having a child cost as much as it does today would those patients billed above would have been able to afford having children at all?