Out of hospital fees are a concern for all Australians but play heavily on the minds of expectant mothers.
St John of God has recently launched a new service for women who want the peace of mind of having the birth in a private hospital but without being left with a big bill for obstetrician costs. Currently fees can vary from around $2,000 up to around $8,000 which can leave some women facing huge and unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
One For Women is a one-stop maternity care option which includes specialist obstetricians, GPs, expert midwives, and health professionals with expertise in breastfeeding, unsettled babies, nutrition, psychology, and physiotherapy.
The full antenatal service is less than $990 out of pocket – and includes four nights stay at either Perth’s St John of God Murdoch Hospital or St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital.
Parmelia resident Tracey Simmons-Garbin was the first woman to give birth at St John of God Murdoch Hospital through One For Women, when she had son Aldous James (AJ).
“I found the program online quite late in my pregnancy and found it to be a brilliant service,” Tracey said.
Tracey stayed at St John of God Murdoch Hospital for four nights, a standard stay for its maternity patients. She was also able to take advantage of the full range of services provided for births, including a private room, lactation consultant and allied health such as physio care. The same one-stop care team also cares for the mother and baby in the postnatal phase.
The big savings for women are in the obstetrician fees. The hospital fees remain the same and are generally covered by private health insurance.
St Mary Ward Nurse Manager Sue Bradshaw said the One For Women model was an alternative to the traditional obstetrician-led model.
“Women have a greater choice of how they can come to St John of God Murdoch Hospital to enjoy our facilities and excellent care,” she said.
“The service offers allied health care in addition to their obstetric care so the service really is all about supporting women through the journey of childbirth and beyond.
“We welcome all patients to St John of God Murdoch Hospital whichever journey they take.”
One For Women Medical Director and Co-founder Dr Stuart Prosser said he was pleased to see the different model of maternity care expand to St John of God Murdoch Hospital.
“Tracey did a wonderful job with Aldous and we’re so pleased that they are our first Murdoch birth. We couldn’t be prouder of them and our team,” he said.
The approach from St John of God is even more pertinent given the continuing fall in private health insurance coverage by young people. Figures from the March 2020 quarter show that 16,340 young people dropped private health insurance in the 25 to 34 year age group.
“The value proposition of private health insurance and private healthcare are continuing to be major issues in Australia. When prospective mothers need to pay inflated PHI premiums for a gold level policy which covers maternity, the last thing they need on top of that are exhorbitant doctor fees and bill shock” says James Kemp, CHA’s Director of Health Policy. “St John of God’s program provides that certainty for new mums while delivering high quality and compassionate care. It’s a win-win”.
Catholic Health Australia is working with the industry and with government on new ways to encourage young people to take up private health insurance – including allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance to the age of 30 and raising the age when lifetime health cover penalties kick in.