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Public Hospital vs Private Hospital Birth

Once you find out you are pregnant, you will need to decide if you will have your baby in a public hospital, or a private hospital. It is a very personal decision, which is often influenced by your financial situation.

The differences between public hospital vs private hospital births are, firstly the cost, and secondly your ability to choose who looks after you and your baby.

Here we take a look at the model of care and costs between public and private hospital births:

Private Hospital

If you choose to have your baby in a private hospital, you will need to appoint your own obstetrician. You choose on the doctor that looks after you, and they are primarily responsible for your medical care, and that of your baby.

Throughout your pregnancy you will see your obstetrician in their rooms at regular intervals. You will usually start with bi-monthly appointments, then increases to monthly and then fortnightly. In the final month of your pregnancy most doctors will see you weekly.

Compared to a public hospital, the cost of private care are significant. You will need to ensure you have private health insurance with appropriate cover that includes obstetric care. This insurance covers you for your hospital stay only.

Your obstetrician will provide you with a list of fees. They vary significantly but are generally between $2000 and $10,000. This will usually cover your regular appointments for the duration of your pregnancy, the delivery of your baby and your care while you are in hospital.

You are more likely to have a private room, and room service for meals in a private hospital. More recently, some private hospitals have partnered with local luxury hotels, enabling a new mother to have her hospital stay in a midwife staffed five-star hotel.

An average stay in a private hospital is between five to six days depending on the type of birth you had.

Public Hospital

There are several models of care in the public system.

Shared care is where your GP looks after you in conjunction with the hospital midwives. Midwifery team care is where a team of midwives is allocated to look after you for the duration of your pregnancy and also help deliver your baby, and obstetric care is also available for higher risk pregnancies.

If you require an obstetrician in the public system, you won’t be able to choose this doctor – they will be allocated to you. You can also choose to appoint your own obstetrician and pay their private fees, but opt to deliver your baby in a public hospital.

There are very few fees associated with birth in a public hospital. If you opt for shared care and your GP dissent bulk bill, you will incur their fees, but otherwise all public hospital care is funded by the government.

It is unlikely that you will have a private room in a public hospital and some maternity hospitals do not serve food in the room, but rather a communal dining room.

Length of stay varies in a public hospital but is likely to be 24 hours for a birthing centre delivery, two to three days for a natural deliver and five days for a caesarian.

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