Know the costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth in India


The journey of a parent starts with the confirmation of pregnancy. And therein begins the first of the numerous visits to hospitals till the baby is born. Choosing a gynaecologist is the next big step. That mostly depends on the popularity of the doctor. This is followed by regular scans and consultations with the gynaecologist, who will also have studied to be an obstetrician—doctors who provide care during pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum (the period after childbirth).

It is usually in the third trimester of pregnancy, that most couples finalize the hospital where the child will be born. That, to a large extent, depends on their chosen gynaecologist. Some gynaecologists have their own maternity homes, while others offer consultations or practice at three or four hospitals.

The costs of hospitalization depend on several factors, right from the hospital size, location and its reputation, to the labour ward there, the type of delivery-Caesarean or normal, type of room to recuperate post-delivery, facilities such as neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), availability of other specialists such as paediatricians, and medical packages including nursing and doctor fees, etc. The more facilities a hospital has, the more options it can include in its healthcare packages. Hospitalization costs also vary across the country. The costs in tier-1 and metro cities are much higher than that in smaller towns.

Mint spoke with some parents to understand how they finalized their hospitals and how much they paid in hospital costs at the time of delivery.

Metro charges

Niranjan Avasthi, senior vice-president, Edelweiss Asset Management Company, 39, who resides in the suburbs of Mumbai, says he and his wife Sharvari opted for Mamta Maternity Home located near their house for his second baby’s delivery. The baby was delivered in June 2021. “The hospital was in the neighbourhood and well-equipped. It was also run by my wife’s gynaecologist ,” he says. The gynaecologist also practiced in Apollo Hospital, but that was relatively far from the Avasthis’ residence and would have been relatively costlier.

Avasthi says since his first child was born by Caesarean (or C-section), the doctor had advised the same for their second child. The hospital quoted a total package of 1.24 lakh, inclusive of 65,800 for surgery and an air-conditioned single room for four days of stay. However, half of this amount was covered by his company’s group health insurance policy.

Mumbai-based Sagar Poddar, 35, a finance professional, had many more variables to consider when deciding on the hospital as his wife Aayushi was going through a complicated pregnancy. Their baby was delivered by a C-section in July.

“We were told it would be a premature delivery. So, we needed a facility that had NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) level 3 and one that was close by as my wife was advised against travelling too much,” Poddar says.

The couple finally narrowed their choice down to two hospitals near their residence—Cloud 9 and Aarogyam. Poddar says he preferred the latter for several reasons. “We felt there would be more personalized attention here. Both hospitals had NICU level 3, but the costs were lower at Aarogyam,” says Poddar.

Aarogyam hospital offered several types of rooms with different costs, starting from the general ward, which cost 68,000 for a four- day stay, to a suite ( 1,03,500) and executive class room ( 1,15,000). The costs of paediatrician, medicine and consumables were to be borne separately.

Poddar said he opted for the suite, which had a separate bed for the family member accompanying the pregnant mother. Overall, the Poddars paid 1.39 lakh. The baby had to be in the NICU for two days for general observation and that cost them 16,500 .

Poddar had a group health medical policy, which covered up to 50,000 of maternity-related costs.

Smaller cities

Maheshkrishna AG, 29, who works in Bengaluru, was overjoyed when he came to know that his wife Sowndharya was pregnant with twins. They, however, chose a hospital in Erode, Tamil Nadu, for the delivery. The twins were delivered in February.

Maheshkrishna said his wife had been advised to take as much rest as possible during the pregnancy, so they moved to her parent’s home in Chithode, a small town in Tamil Nadu. Maheshkrishna took the work from home option to be with his wife during the pregnancy. The couple had heard good things about a gynaecologist who ran the Nishant Hospital at Erode. The hospital was 10-15km from their residence, but it was the only reputable one near Chithode.

The cost for C-section delivery came to around 91,105, inclusive of four-and-half-days of hospitalization. “We stayed a bit longer there as we wanted to make sure that both babies got their vaccinations in the hospital itself. Luckily, no NICU was needed,” he says.

A large part of Maheshkrishna’s expenses were covered by his employer’s insurance, which had a larger limit for maternity. However, the hospital didn’t have cashless facility. So, he had to pay everything upfront but got it reimbursed later.

Hospital charges made for the bulk of his expenses, at 60,000. This included the doctor’s fees of 37,000, room charges of 12,000, operation theatre charges of 5,000, and nursing charges of 4,000.

Manipur-based lawyer S. Saddam Singh, 33, paid a total of 70,000 as costs for the delivery of his baby at Shija Hospital in Imphal in July. His wife had to be hospitalized for three days for her C-section delivery.

According to Singh, the costs were a bit higher because he opted for a deluxe room. He didn’t have a regular job or an insurance cover and so had to bear all the costs on his own.

Singh chose Shija Hospital since it had all facilities, including NICU, and also had paediatricians on its rolls. And more importantly, their gynaecologist also practiced in the same hospital. Post-delivery, the baby was admitted to the NICU for general observation. Their gynaecologist, who did not wish to be identified, said the costs would have doubled had the family opted for a metro city like Delhi.

What to factor in?

Usually, couples prefer the hospitals suggested by their gynaecologists, be it one owned by the latter or where they offer consultations. They are more comfortable with the gynaecologist assisting during childbirth. Since the gynaecologist is already aware of the mother’s medical history, they are in a better position to deal with any complications that arise during childbirth.

When finalizing a hospital, proximity to one’s residence matters. The other factors to consider include the availability of facilities such as NICU, especially in case of a complicated pregnancy.

An employer health insurance policy usually covers maternity benefits up to a certain limit. Expectant parents can check how much benefit they can avail from the employer health insurance policy. In some cases, the same policy could also cover post-delivery care of the baby like NICU costs. One can also buy family floater policies that come with maternity benefits. These include policies such as ICICI Lombard Health Elite, Niva Bupa Health Premia, Star Health Comprehensive, etc. Besides, one can buy maternity-specific plans like Joy-Maternity Insurance Plan by Care. But, choose only policies that have a wider coverage and the least waiting period .

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Updated: 13 Aug 2023, 10:49 PM IST

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