Expectant mothers slugged extra $30 to visit obstetrician

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

PREGNANT mothers are paying about $30 more to visit an obstetrician after a cap on Medicare payments by the Gillard Government.

Many women with private health insurance are choosing to return to the public system because of increasing costs that have driven the price of private births up by $850.

... one in three said the change to the payments made private obstetric care unaffordable.

... Health Minister Nicola Roxon moved to cap Medicare safety net payments ... for women who use private obstetricians ... after obstetricians doubled fees to take advantage of the scheme, that refunded 80 per cent of their charges.

An investigation of Medicare data has found the average out-of-pocket cost of seeing an obstetrician leapt by $30.68 to $119.60 per visit in the year to June 30 2010 after the cap was introduced.

... A survey of 72 obstetricians found almost two in three doctors have suffered a drop in private patients as a result of the change and some argue it was increasing pressure on the public hospital system.

The maternity reforms are encouraging women to book their care with private midwives and their care will be funded by medicare where the midwife has a collaborative agreement with an obstetrician.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448