Childbirth costs: What's the price difference for public vs private?

Giving birth can be an expensive exercise, no matter which hospital you visit.

·3-min read
A mother holds her child for the first time after giving birth.
Is public or private healthcare the best choice when giving birth? (Source: Getty)

More than half of Ausssie parents were 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 per cent said they would go through the public system if they were to have another child.

The research found one in four would go the private route, while one in 10 were on the fence.

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

Finder health insurance expert James Martin said the decision to have a child was one of life’s most significant milestones, and everyone had 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,” Martin said.

“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.”

Why parents said they would choose public

While cost was the number one reason for almost half (46 per cent) who said they would go public, almost two in five said the quality of treatment and care was just as good as going private.

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

Why parents said they would choose private

On the other end of the spectrum, 16 per cent 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 per cent) and access to a private room (15 per cent) were other determining factors.

Martin said a major difference between the two was the 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,” he said.

Martin said it was 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.”

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