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A baby’s first year is full of many exciting firsts. But along with those precious first smiles and words come first fevers, colds and trips to the doctor.

There are many medical costs associated with having a baby ― many of which new parents don’t foresee ― and they start well before your baby even arrives.

From prenatal doctor’s visits, to labor and delivery, to first checkups and shots, to any additional trips to the pediatrician or hospital if your little one falls ill, you can easily rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills before your baby’s first birthday.

In fact, according to BMO Harris Bank’s recent survey1 of new and expectant parents, conducted by research firm Pollara, parents pay an average of $1,297 out of pocket during a child’s first year, with the rest of the medical costs covered by insurance.

And there are so many varying health costs in that first blurry year of parenthood, that many of the parents surveyed ― 39 percent to be exact ― didn’t know the total cost they paid during their child’s first year.

Here’s a sample of those varying costs, which, of course, will differ for everyone:

$2,000 Average total cost for prenatal care throughout a typical pregnancy, including about 12 doctors’ visits, routine blood tests, urinalysis and at least one ultrasound. (Costhelper.com)
$1,500 to
$20,000+
Cost for labor and delivery. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the lowest charge for a vaginal birth involving an average woman was $3,296, while the highest was $37,227. For an uncomplicated Caesarean delivery, the lowest charge was about $8,312, while the highest was $70,908.
$3,325 The average medical cost for healthy infants during the first year of life in 2005; this average increases to $32,325 for preterm infants. (NCLS.org)

There are other reports that cite the costs as higher — costs that come as a shock for many, especially those without insurance. According to an article by The New York Times, child birth in America is the costliest of any country in the world, having tripled since 1996. The Times article features a report by Truven, which says the average total cost for pregnancy and newborn care for a vaginal delivery was $30,000 and $50,000 for a C-section. Women with insurance pay out of pocket an average of $3,400.

It’s impossible to predict exactly what medical expenses your new baby will have, but it helps to know how much, if any, your insurance will cover. While many parents accumulate large medical bills, many of these expenses are often covered by insurance. In fact, just 4 percent of parents surveyed reported paying more than $5,000 out of pocket.

So if you’re expecting, expect to have some medical bills in the next year and budget accordingly. A little financial planning can go a long way toward keeping your bank account healthy, and your baby rosy-cheeked and ready for what year two will bring.

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