The cost of having a baby depends on many factors. First up, a woman who chooses to give birth in the public system and who has a Medicare card will not be charged for her care. It's free! A woman who elects to have her baby privately - with a midwife or an obstetrician, at home or in hospital - will be charged. Fees may be claimed through a variety of means, including Medicare, private health insurance and tax.
The costs will depend on many factors including:
- The time that the care provider spends with the woman: a care provider who spends more time with you will charge you more than a care provider who spends less time with you.
- The duration and frequency of appointments
- The number of women in your care provider's practice any any one time: a care provider who attends 30 births a month probably charges less than a care provider who attends 15 births a month. Likewise with midwives, a midwife who takes on more births each month probably charges less per woman, than a midwife with a smaller practice that provides more personalised commitment.
- Whether the care provider personally will attend the birth, or whether they operate a roster system with other private midwives or obstetricians. For example, some may be on-call only one weekend in four, or take regular holidays during which time other practitioners cover for them and so on.
- How pregnant you are when you engage their care
- How pregnant you are when you give birth
- Any complications you experience in your pregnancy
- The time you need to have your care needs met
- The location of your care provider's consulting rooms: rooms in Sydney's CBD are more expensive than rooms in Nepean, for example
You may claim the cost of your care through Medicare
If your midwife is an eligible midwife, you are able to claim the cost of care through Medicare. You can also claim the cost of obstetric care through Medicare. How much does Medicare give you back? It's very tricky to answer! Medicare rebates are a combination of a Medicare Benefit or a Medicare Schedule Fee (depending where you are at with your Medicare Safety Net), plus the Extended Safety Net may apply if you have met that threshold. By way of example, a 40-minute appointment with your midwife may see you receiving Medicare rebates of anywhere between $44.55 and $73.80. Multiply this out over many appointments, and you can understand why it's so hard to put an exact $ figure on the out-of-pocket cost. Also, every January, the Medicare Safety Nets re-set, so any threshold you met last year will no longer apply for this year, until you reach the threshold again.
You may claim the cost of your care through Private Health insurance
But remember: private health insurance (hospital cover) only covers your in-hospital care. It does not cover the cost of appointments with your midwife or obstetrician.
However, there is an exception. Women who have extras cover may well find that they can claim homebirth with a midwife (this currently is not covered by Medicare), and also childbirth education. Having recently explored this, there is a huge range in the available benefits, from 80% of all out-of-pocket costs (uncapped), to $3,000 to $nil.
You may claim the cost of your care through tax
This is called the Net Medical Expenses Tax Off-set. In essence, you can claim a certain % of your care once a threshold has been met. I hear that this threshold is changing for the current financial year ... and don't want to mislead you ... so head to the ATO website and check it out for yourself.
In a nutshell ...
If you are left out-of-pocket somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 for private midwifery care or private obstetric care, this would be reasonable. Check the fees and benefits with your midwife or obstetrician before you engage their care. When you are looking into fees, consider:
- Is my midwife or obstetrician committing to providing all of my care or will other practitioners be involved?
- Is my midwife or obstetrician committing to being available to me 24/7 from the time that I book in?
- How many hours of care can I expect?
- How many visits can I expect?
- Will my care provider just provide clinical care to me, or will they also help me prepare for birth, write a birth plan, provide education and resources and support me?
- Does my care provider have the ability to see me at home if I ask for this?
- How much postnatal care will they provide to me, and for how long?
These sorts of questions might help to put into perspective the different fees and charges of each practitioner.
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