Article was orginally written by Elizabeth McLardy on October 18, 2016.
Planning to have a baby is an exciting time. But it’s also one filled with many questions, some common ones being “Where am I going to have my baby?” and “Will I need family health insurance?” While babies may not be as stressful as one might think, planning for them definitely can be.
Should you get private health insurance before pregnancy?
If you are considering having your baby at a private hospital then make sure you purchase your family’s private health cover before you get pregnant! Most health funds require health insurance for your family to be obtained at least 12 months in advance.
It’s also a good idea to compare different family health insurance policies if you want to get the maximum bang for your buck and make paying the premium worth the expense.Also, consider what kind of excess you can afford to pay; for instance, don’t go with a higher excess for a cheaper premium if you won’t be able to pay the excess when it matters.
Overall, it’s important to make sure the family health cover you choose suits your needs and your budget during pregnancy, for both the delivery and post-delivery.
To check whether you have the right cover for pregnancy, review your extras and make sure you aren’t paying for something you don’t need.
Family health insurance during pregnancy
Most medical expenses during pregnancy will not be covered by your health fund. These costs include the services of a GP, obstetrician visits, scans and blood tests. But they might be partially covered by Medicare.
One of the benefits of private health insurance is, via extras cover, potentially being able to claim for things like remedial and pregnancy massages, physiotherapy and chiropractic care. If you are paying a premium to claim for these, then make sure you make the most of them pre and post-delivery. Your lower back and shoulders are likely to take a beating from carrying the extra load and while breastfeeding, so take care of them by asking your health practitioner about preventative care exercises and making extra visits when you need it.
The table below features a snapshot of hospital & extras policies on Canstars database with preganancy cover and links to providers’ websites, sorted by provider name (alphabetically). Please note the results are based on a couple aged under 35 in NSW with pregnancy cover.
Pregnancy: What are you covered for when you deliver?
If you have chosen the hospital where you would like to have your baby, then make sure you contact them to find out which private health insurers have an agreement in place with them. You are likely to have more out-of-pocket expenses if your obstetrician performs the delivery at a hospital that doesn’t have a contract with your health fund!
Find out exactly what you can claim for and what you’ll end up being billed for. It’s a good idea to check with both the hospital and your health insurer. Reviewing and updating your family health insurance policy now will help you to select the options you are looking for and how much the premium will be.
And don’t forget to take the essentials in with you when it’s time to go to the hospital!
Post-delivery: Health insurance for your newborn baby
You will have out-of-pocket costs for the paediatrician who comes to check on your newborn. Your healthy bub will be considered an outpatient, so your health insurances cannot cover this service but Medicare will provide partial payment.
It might be worth keeping your partner’s insurance separate until after the delivery so that you’re not paying for the unnecessary higher level of obstetrics cover for them as well as for you.
Once your baby has been delivered, it’s time to look at family health cover and remember to add your baby to your health insurance. Most family private health insurance policies offer free cover for children until they are at least 18 years old, and longer if they are still dependent (up to 21 years old). Every fund has different rules about covering newborn babies so check with your health fund as early as possible. The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman also suggests these questions to ask your insurer when you are planning family private health insurance.
In the coming months you’ll need to think about vaccinations for your child, along with myriad other aspects of their health such as a health diet for your kids, their dental health, and whether your child may need glasses when they start school and need to see the blackboard.
Once you’ve got that all figured out and sorted, congratulations! You’re one step closer to being a happy, healthy, and safely insured family – and many, many steps away from being an empty-nester and taking them off your policy again.