As a new royal baby was born to Kate Middleton and Prince William, the UK was abuzz, with word spreading of a lavish, luxurious birth. But the price for the birth and the mother’s recovery, which was $8,900, is significantly lower than what the average US woman pays under normal conditions.
The US is the most expensive place in the world for giving birth, with the average price being $10,800 in 2015. This doesn’t include pre and post-birth care, which raise the price to roughly $30,000.
The UK takes its royalty very seriously — and the birth of a new royal baby is no small matter. So it’s only natural that the media was abuzz with the event, presenting even the tiniest details about Kate and William’s preparations. Among these details, it was revealed that the baby was delivered in a private room in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Lindo Wing. Perks include an “en suite” bathroom, a refrigerator, and a menu of “nutritious” meals — which, call me crazy, sounds decent rather than luxurious for a woman going through the struggles of childbirth. Still, the $8,900 price tag is nothing to scoff at and seems very luxurious — until you look at figures for the USA.
According to figures compiled by The Economist and circulated by Statista, this deluxe package for 24 hours, including the non-Caesarian delivery, still costs less than an average birth in the United States, which amounts to $10,800 (2015 figures). The Guardian reports that, including all expenses, US hospitals charged $32,093 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and newborn care, and $51,125 for a standard cesarean section.
Of course, you can make a very valid case that the UK royal house is making too many expenses, that they’re ultimately funded through public money, and that they’re often quite lavishly wasteful. But really, a more important takeaway is that, even in these extremely troubling times, the British healthcare system (be it public or private) somehow manages to be more price-efficient than the US healthcare system. Even though American insurers often negotiate lower prices, the associated costs are still much higher. This is a recurring problem for the US, which spends more on healthcare than any other country, but in many aspects falls way behind other developed nations.
It’s not like the British system is a landmark either — other developed countries also have much lower birth-associated prices. For instance, in Spain, it costs about $1,950 to deliver a child. In Australia, the price is around $5,000, and in even Switzerland, a notoriously expensive country, it’s under $8,000.
To top it all off, if Kate and William had regular jobs, they would be entitled to 37 weeks of paid parental leave and up to 50 weeks unpaid leave. American workers have no national paid family leave policy and no national mechanism to help parents stay afloat financially after bringing a child to the world.