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Parents who went private paid three times more out-of-pocket for childbirth


More than half of Australian parents are inclined to choose the public system when giving birth, according to new research by Finder.

According to Finder's Parenting Report 2023, which surveyed 1,033 Australian parents of children under 12, 62% would go through the public system if they were to have another child.

The research found 1 in 4 (27%) would go the private route, while 1 in 10 (11%) are on the fence.

Those who have previously gone down the private route paid on average more than three times as much in out-of-pocket fees ($2,394) than those who took the public path ($726).

James Martin, health insurance expert at Finder, said the decision to have a child is one of life's most significant milestones, and everyone has their own preferences when choosing to give birth.

"It really depends on personal circumstances but cost and choice are usually the two determining factors when choosing between a public or private birth.

"Some say the main advantage of going private for childbirth is that you can access a more individual level of care. This includes having your own room where your partner can remain at your side throughout your stay in the hospital.

"On the other hand, while you're guaranteed your own obstetrician, the medical professionals are just as qualified in the public sector as they are in the private sector."

While cost is the number one reason for almost half (46%) who said they would go public, almost 2 in 5 (38%) said the quality of treatment and care is just as good as it is private.

Flexibility around seeing a different medical team (7%) and not choosing an obstetrician (6%) were other reasons some chose to stick with the public system.

On the other end of the spectrum, 16% of those who said they would go private said it was down to better quality treatment and care.

The ability to choose an obstetrician (15%) and access to a private room (15%) were other determining factors.

Martin said a major difference between the two is the level of out-of-pocket fees.

"The cost of childbirth in a private hospital is far greater than in the public system, where it's typically free under Medicare."

Martin said it's important to account for the costs involved in the private system.

"For one, you'll need to pay more while you see out your insurance policy's waiting period. For most, this means at least 12 months of higher premiums while holding a Gold health insurance policy that covers childbirth.

"Your total costs can run into several thousand dollars once you factor in out-of-pocket costs.

"These can include payments for physio visits, antenatal classes and lactation consultant appointments. Plus, you'll need to pay your policy's excess when making a claim at the private hospital.

"Our research shows more than a quarter see these costs as worth paying for the extra care and choices you may unlock by going private," Martin said.

If you were to have another child, would you go through the public or private system?
I'm not sure11%
Source: Finder's Parenting Report 2023 of 1,033 parents of children 0-12, November 2022
How much "out-of-pocket" were you after your most recent birth?
Source: Finder's Parenting Report 2023 of parents of children 0-12, November 2022. Based on 285 parents who went private and 726 parents who went public.
Why would you choose the public system?
It costs less46%
The quality of treatment/care is just as good as with private cover38%
I don't need extras like physio or massages after birth11%
I'd be happy to see a different medical team each time I visit the hospital7%
I'd be happy not choosing my obstetrician6%
I'd be happy not being guaranteed a private room3%
Source: Finder's Parenting Report 2023 of 1,033 parents of children 0-12, November 2022
Why would you choose the private system?
For better quality treatment/care16%
To be able to choose my obstetrician15%
For a private room15%
To have consistency in my medical team (e.g. obstetrician, midwife)9%
To be able to stay longer in hospital6%
In case of a complicated pregnancy/birth6%
For extras like physio or massages after birth1%
Other (please specify)0%
Source: Finder's Parenting Report 2023 of 1,033 parents of children 0-12, November 2022

Unsure of the out-of-pocket costs involved in pregnancy? Here's what you need to know.

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