Hospital Bill From 1955 Reveals It Cost $60 for a 3-Night Stay to Have a Baby

Healthcare is a controversial issue in the U.S. and subject of a long-running debate among blue and red voters. Bills can spiral into the millions, with fresh fears over the amount of medical debt related to hospital stays due to COVID.

But a common reason for a hospital stay, and something most people can relate to, is the cost of having a baby. Even if you're not a parent, your own birth likely cost your parents a sizeable amount, depending on their insurance plan.

In today's day and age, long-term stays, premature babies, surgery, c-sections and multiples can end up costing millions.

That's in stark contrast to bills from the early part of the 20th century, as demonstrated when people took to Reddit to share their grandparents' and parents' paperwork from yesteryear.

Redditor BinaryPeach uploaded a bill, shared with him by his teacher. He explained: "My medical school professor showed me this bill from his birth in 1955 (in the United States.)"

The bill related to a three-night stay in Belleville Hospital, Kansas, from December 15 to 18, 1955.

The charges show room, board and nursing service cost $27, the delivery room was $15, it was $6 for "care of infant," and drugs and medicine cost $11.95.

In total the new mom was billed $59.95, which one commenter, Covertpoet, estimated was "equivalent to about $600 today."

The post, shared last month, was upvoted more than 10,000 times and amassed numerous comments, as moms shared the bills they've been presented with to compare.

Flatline1775 wrote: "Just shy of $700k for me. 96 days in the NICU will do that though. I have a happy, healthy 4 year old now though, so it was worth every penny."

Hotpuck6 added: "Twins born 10 weeks early. $600k each thanks to NICU stays. Thank God we had insurance that covered virtually all of it."

"Same for me and another $60K for 14 days in the NICU for my little guy," DudeReallyoc added.

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A fellow Redditor, named TickleMonster528, shared a pre-war bill from the general hospital in Boston to the site last week. They captioned the image: "Hospital bill from my grandpa's birth circa 1929. Massachusetts General Hospital."

The breakdown reveals the mother, Bertha, was charged $8 a night for a two-night stay, $50 for "service making X-ray record" and 50 cents for tea. Her total was $66.50, but as she had $24 in "credit," her final bill was a mere $42.50.

Earlier this year user Msyodajenkins1 uploaded another vintage bill, this time from 1933.

The mom, Lillian, gave birth at the Nathan and Miriam Barnert Memorial Hospital, in New Jersey, and spent a week there.

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In total she was charged $59, which broke down to $42 for her private room, $7 in nursery fees and $10 for the delivery room.

The snap, upvoted hundreds of times, was captioned: "This 1933 hospital bill for a 7 day hospital stay and delivery."

In the comments, they added: "Equivalent to about $1,200 today. Today a 7 day hospital stay can easily reach five to even six figures in the US depending on what you're in for. The average price for a hospital birth is roughly $21,000 alone. Mine was $30,000."

Across all three posts people slammed the U.S. healthcare system, calling for change.

I3uckethead commented: "Insurance in its current form is a government—created monster."

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"That's about what a Tylenol tablet would cost in a US hospital today," Drmzbig joked.

Godbotly raged: "That is absolutely absurd. I feel terrible for anyone that needs medical care over there. $0 for both my kids... but I'm in a developed country lol."

Referencing babies being sent bills in their own name, Berandiepe wrote: "Just when you think you've hit rock bottom with the dystopia that is U.S. healthcare, you hear about literally the babies themselves being charged for being born and starting their lives in debt How in god's name has this system gone on for so long?"

Newsweek reached out to Msyodajenkins1, TickleMonster528 and BinaryPeach for comment.

File photo of newborn baby.
File photo of newborn baby. Redditors have been sharing hospital bills from yesteryear revealing how much it cost to have a baby. kieferpix/Getty Images