Private system delivers poor value on maternity
Mothers relying on private health cover pay much more than those who use a public hospital, according to new research.
The study separated women into those who gave birth in the public or private system, and women were matched for similar birth circumstances, such as having a caesarean or giving birth vaginally.
“Fees were consistently higher in all time periods for private births compared with public births: 500 per cent higher in pregnancy, 1200 per cent higher at the time of birth, and 180 per cent higher in the first year postpartum,” the study, published in the journal Birth Issues in Perinatal Care, found.
“Obstetric services were the largest source of fees paid by mothers who gave birth in private hospitals ($1296), followed by diagnostic imaging ($262) and specialists ($221). For each type of service, the fees for mothers who gave birth in private hospitals were higher than for similar mothers who gave birth in public hospitals.”
The study found women who gave birth in public hospitals saw general practitioners more often, while both groups of women used similar numbers of diagnostic imaging services.
“The standout finding is just how much more mums do pay if they do choose to give birth in a private hospital, and how long the out-of-pocket costs are incurred for,” said Griffith University associate professor Emily Callander, who led the study.
“It’s not just at the time of birth but those costs continue during the child’s first year of life. I found it surprising how many thousands of dollars mums who choose to give birth in private hospitals do pay. Private health insurance does not protect you from high out-of-pocket costs.”