Public vs Private

Decisions

So by 8-10 weeks it is recommended that you choose whether you will go public or private for your pregnancy.

Now for many women this might not even be a choice because you may not have health insurance to cover you for pregnancy.

I also was quite clueless on my private health insurance but luckily I had a colleague at work who talked me through private health insurance and private care during pregnancy or else I think I would have no clue and also would not be in a position in choosing.

12 Months Waiting

  1. I’m not sure how it works in other countries, but in Australia, you can not make a claim on pregnancy unless you have been with the private health insurer for 12 months or more. So its not like you can fall pregnant and then sign up to private health insurance. You need to be with your insurer well before you fall pregnant.
  2. You also need to check what level of pregnancy cover you get! From looking on my side, it seems you have to get top hospital cover to be able to be covered for pregnancy at all the private hospitals. Some health insurance have basic level pregnancy cover, which only covers you for a private room in a public hospital and that’s about it.

Now please keep in mind that Australia as many would know have one of the best public healthcare systems in the world especially when it comes to mothers and their babies. Also the care at many of the public hospitals from what I hear is fantastic.

Like I say, everyone has their own cicumstances to think of.

Going private is definetly more expensive.

I have a more detailed expense breakdown as I have been keeping count on our expenses related to going private. Below is a breakdown (rough. If you want an exact number just ask me and I’m happy to add it up until now):

  • c$160 per month for private health insurance
  • $200 for the initial obstetrician visit
  • $100 for all follow up visits (this could be 10-12 visits all up)
  • $4,000 plan maangement fee (now this amount varies per doctor. Anywhere between $3,000-$7,000)
  • $200-$300 for ultrasounds (usually 3 throughout the pregnancy)
  • $70 per day in hospital co-payment (this was an option in my health cover that I took up to reduce my premiums)

Now I’m not taking into account what you get back from Medicare, but you do get money back from the OB visits, plan management fee and ultrasounds.

Just as an indication, rough estimates below:

  • On OB visits I was initially getting $40 back but then you hit a threshold which means you get more money back and after I paid the plan management fee, I started getting nearly $75 back on each OB visit
  • I got $500 back on the plan management fee
  • My last ultrasound cost me $209 and I got back $140 from Medicare but that’s because I have hit the threshold. Previous ultrasounds I got back less.

Some advice on ultrasounds. My OB would give me a referral to a certain ultrasound place but you can take that referral to any place that does the required ultrasound and they will accept it. The place my OB referred me to was charging $300+ per ultrasound. I rang around a couple of places in Sydney and found Bondi Junction X-Ray who charge $100 less!

You might get caught up paying more at these other places as well because they can make a DVD out of your ultrasound. In my mind, I don’t know when I will put a DVD in to watch my baby in my womb. I would rather be watching videos of my baby once they are out.

Me and my partner are middle income household earners so we tried to be as mindful as possible with the costs and what is necessary and what is just a waste.

Tip: The excitement of a new baby tends to send mums especially first time mums into spending overdrive! You think you need everything for this baby. A tip from someone who has and is going through this, I always think twice and take a moment before I consider buying whatever it is and always always think this “could this money be better spent on something else for the baby such as education, sports, music leassons or general savings for the baby?”. If you answer yes to this question, then put the product down and walk away.

So you might be asking “Why did you go private?”. My reasons are below. Again keep in mind of your own personal circumstances and do your own research to help you along:

  • My personaility type is that I am a very anxious person and I internalise this anxiousness and being a first time mum, I knew I needed peace of mind. Knowing that I had the same obstetrician seeing me every visit and who will be there for the labour and make the right decisions was important for me to be calm and in peace. This is one thing that is super important during your pregnancy. Stress free and peaceful
  • With my obstetrician I am able to see my baby every time I saw him as he had an ultrasound machine. This has been an amazing experience and I was so excited for my OB visits so I could see our baby, record him/her moving around, hear their heart beat (it still makes me well up in tears when I hear it) and again peace of mind of being able to see that baby is ok! I would tend to think bad things during my pregnancy so the anxiety was pretty bad and especially because you don’t get to feel your baby kick usually until your 4 months or more, so those first 4 months of being able to see and hear baby were so important to me
  • If you go private, you have the option to have an elective cesearean or go natural. In the public system, this option is not available to you unless you have a health problem that would require a c-section. When I fell pregnant I could not decide whether I wanted a c-section or go natural so having the option to go either way was again important for peace of mind (I will go into further details on what I have decided on doing for my birth)
  • Public hospitals are not inclined to wanting to do c-sections purely because it costs more money to have a c-section, not only the actual operation but recovery time is longer than natural and therefore take up more beds longer which means a lot of women who go public will have to go natural and if labour is long, then the hospital will encourage you to keep on carrying on with the labour. One colleague of mine was in labour for 22 hours before they decided to take her in for an emergency c-section. Again, I don’t want to be in a situation where I am not only putting stress on my body but also my baby just because I need to go natural. My OB and myself can agree at what point in time we need to go in for a c-section and having a professional who knows my history gives me assurance that he knows what to do when the time comes.
  • Being my first time going through labour, I wanted the privacy to recover on my own in my own room. In the public system, you are expected to share rooms unless you have a serious condition during or after labour, but the majority of people have to share. With private, you will get your own room if you deliver in a private hospital. You can go private in a public hospital but they still can’t guarantee you a private room which for me defeats the purpose.

Those are some of the reasons that I can think of at the top of my head, but again I want to reiterate that not every couple is in a financial position to be able to go private and to those I say that again, our health system is one of the best in the world and the public health system will look after you and the baby as need be.

For others that can afford to go private, then weigh up the pros and cons. We sat down and went over the numbers but the pros for me and my partner was the fact that I would be in a more peaceful state of mind (which I have been) and stress free when it comes to the baby’s development (again I can vouch for this).

It was also very important for my partner that I have peace of mind so he did not mind paying what we had to pay to achieve this.

In saying that, if everything goes smoothly with this baby, then I’m not sure if I would go private a 2nd time round. Reason being is that my state of mind might be different in that I hope I’m not as anxious second time round as I would already know what to expect but who knows. Will have to wait and see when the time comes.