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Debt on arrival: Cost of childbirth exceeds $5,000 for 1 in 7 parents

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The majority of Australian parents get hit with hundreds if not thousands in out-of-pocket hospital expenses after childbirth, according to new research from Finder.

According to Finder's Parenting Report 2021, which surveyed 1,033 Aussie parents of children under 12, two-thirds (64%) faced out-of-pocket hospital costs for their most recent birth.

Hospital visits, scans and delivery-related bills cost 14% of mums and dads upwards of $5,000, including 5% who shelled out more than $10,000 for their bundle of joy.

James Martin, health insurance expert at Finder, said even with private health insurance, parents are likely to be left with a bill after birth.

"Giving birth through the public healthcare system is usually significantly cheaper than private cover.

"In general, you can expect to pay a maximum of $2,000 through a public hospital, depending on personal circumstances, and often nothing at all.

"Private care is pricier, but it certainly has its benefits.

"Many parents value having a predictability of care every time they visit the hospital, while others want to have a guaranteed private room after birth and a longer stay in the hospital if needed," Martin said.

While 7 in 10 (69%) parents surveyed gave birth through the public system, just 59% would choose the public system if they were to have another child.

Martin said the public sector is not necessarily worse than private care.

"There is a stereotype that private health delivers better quality of care, but that's not always true. The medical professionals are equally as qualified as doctors in the private sector.

"If you're comfortable with seeing different doctors every time you visit the hospital or not having a private room post-delivery, then a public birth might be a better option."

Either way, Martin encourages parents to prepare for the most expensive scenario.

"It can be challenging to predict exactly what the cost of your birth will be ahead of time.

"If you're choosing private cover, make sure you upgrade your policy, at a bare minimum, 12 months before you get pregnant, otherwise you lose that flexibility.

"Read the product disclosure statement in detail so you understand exactly what's included and what isn't.

"It's also a good idea to compare health insurance policies to make sure you aren't paying any more than you need to."

If you were to have another child, would you go through the public or private system?
I'm not sure9%
Source: Finder Parenting Report 2021 of 1,033 parents of children under 12
How much "out-of-pocket" were you after your most recent birth (medical expenses only) (e.g. scans, hospital visits, hospital bills)?
Less than $1,00024%
$15,000 or more2%
Source: Finder Parenting Report 2021 of 1,033 parents of children under the age of 12

Looking to take out pregnancy health insurance? Here's what you need to know.

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