Cost of having a baby could rise by $2000 in crackdown on Medicare Safety Net scheme

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Link to article

By Sue Dunlevy The Daily Telegraph April 01, 2009 12:01am

PREGNANT women and those using IVF may have to pay up to $2000 more for their medical care under proposed Budget cuts that will slash middle-class welfare.

The Rudd Government is considering a crackdown on the $300 million-a-year Medicare Safety Net scheme that helps more than 1.5 million sick and pregnant with their health costs ...

The scheme's cost has blown out by more than $600 million, with studies showing it pays up to 63 times more money to the wealthy.

Almost half the taxpayer money paid out in the scheme goes towards obstetrician and gynaecologist fees, [which increased] more than 400 per cent since the net was introduced in 2004.

To rein in the ballooning costs, obstetricians and gynaecologists have proposed the Government cut the patient refund from 80 per cent to just 66 per cent for pregnant women and those using IVF ... The move would cut the rebates available to pregnant women from about $4000 to $3300.

Women using IVF to conceive could have their rebates slashed by as much as $2000, from $9000 to $7000.

I think this is a great initiative of the government. By making private obstetric care less attractive, it can impact the demand for such services. In comparison, private midwifery will seem more attractive. Private midwifery does not attract a rebate from the medicare safety net, so in comparison to obstetric care, it seems expensive. What this important change does is it reduces the gap batween private obstetric care and private midwifery care.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.