For many Australians, private health insurance becomes especially important when there’s a baby on the way. It’s an exciting time, as you start to look at tiny shoes and scour through baby name books, but it’s also when you may start to feel the weight of responsibility.
Looking after yourself is one thing, but looking after a tiny baby is another. It’s only natural for parents to want to do everything they can to keep their child safe and healthy, which is why private health insurance becomes a topic of conversation (if it hasn’t already).
When weighing up the benefits of private health cover, there are two time periods to consider: pregnancy and after the baby is born. For pregnancy cover, there is a 12-month waiting period in place. That means you need to have had cover for the 12 months preceding your baby’s due date. Ideally, you’ll have cover for at least three months before you conceive.
If you’re already pregnant, you haven’t missed out on the benefits of private health cover. Although you won’t be able to claim for pregnancy services, you can still add your baby to your cover once he or she is born.
Here are 7 ways private health insurance can help you, whether you’re planning for a new bub or already expecting.
- The Power of Choice
Private health cover gives you the ability to choose your doctor and your hospital, which is a huge advantage for many mums-to-be. You can base your decision on personal recommendations, convenient location, or whatever else makes you comfortable.
This may seem like a minor benefit at first, but when it comes time to give birth, you may find it very reassuring to have a familiar doctor in a hospital that’s close by.
- Get Your Own Room
Depending on your level of cover, you may have access to a private room when giving birth. If the idea of going through labour with only a thin curtain separating you from strangers is unappealing, a private room might be a good idea.
- More Time to Recover in Hospital
Private health cover often lets you stay longer in hospital to recover after the birth. In general, public hospitals give new mums two nights after a natural birth and four after a caesarean. Private hospitals generally bump that up to four nights after a natural birth and five after a caesarean. This can be an invaluable opportunity to get some extra support and prepare for the transition of bringing baby home.
- Flexible Appointment Times
Going private gives you more flexibility with appointment times, which means you can work them around your schedule. The same is true after your baby arrives and as your family grows; private health insurance opens the door to more convenient scheduling than the public system is able to.
- Reproductive services
When we talk about pregnancy cover, we’re often focused on the business of growing a baby, not what comes before that. But the truth is that whether it’s your first time trying for a baby or you’re an old pro, fertility issues can pop up out of the blue. Find private insurance that includes reproductive services like IVF and you’ll be covered for this possibility.
- Family Cover
Pregnancy cover and family cover are not the same thing. If your newborn needs special care immediately, they may need to be admitted to hospital as an inpatient. To make sure that your baby is covered from birth, you’ll need to add them to your cover as soon as possible. The rules for this vary by fund, so ask your insurer for details.
Children who are added to their parents’ policy in time are not required to sit any waiting periods. Many hospital policies do not charge an excess for kids, so if your baby is admitted, excess fees may not apply.
- Extra Benefits
Private health insurance is about more than claiming money back on medical services. Some insurers offer extra benefits to help you improve your health and stay more informed. For example, Medibank offers a phone service where you can call a nurse 24/7 with any pregnancy-related questions. Other insurers offer discounts on health services, special health apps for members, or options to attend childbirth and parenting classes.
Remember that private health insurance covers you as an in-patient in the hospital, not for out-of-hospital services. That means you’re covered for the birth, but you may be liable for some expenses like prenatal obstetrician visits or ultrasounds. In these cases, Medicare covers 85% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee.
Private cover can offer a range of advantages, no matter where you are in your pregnancy journey. You may want to have private cover throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born, or you may choose to be a public patient in a public hospital and switch to family cover after the birth.
The great thing about private cover is that the decision is up to you—at a time when there’s plenty of uncertainty, it’s nice to be in charge of something!