Cover for certain pregnancy-related items such as having a baby in a public hospital, birth centre or homebirth is free and covered by Medicare.

However, if you prefer a private hospital and a private obstetrician, you must pay for it out your own pocket or take out a private health insurance policy. Here’s an overview of private health insurance arrangements:

When to take out private health insurance

If you’re thinking about starting a family, it’s a good idea to get private health insurance as soon as possible. This is because most health insurance policies have a 12-month waiting period for pregnancy-related expenses and claims.

If you want to have your own choice of obstetrician in a private hospital, or use any assisted reproductive services like IVF, a combined health insurance policy (hospital cover with extras) is a good idea.

What to look out for in a policy

There are many policies on the market so it’s important to check the details. Some policies may not include obstetrics items or paediatric visits. It’s also important to check whether your baby will be automatically covered on your policy when they are born. If not, you may need to change from a couple’s policy to a family policy and add your baby to the policy. This is important in case the baby needs immediate medical attention.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Check when you need to update your policy to include your baby. Some policies require that you do so up to three months before the baby is born.
  • A family policy shouldn’t cost more than a couple’s policy as children are usually covered for free.
  • Check whether the policy offers an excess for children as some policies only charge an excess for adults.

Planning for unexpected events

It’s an exciting time but unfortunately having a baby doesn’t always go according to plan. You might find yourself carrying more than one baby, or your baby may be born prematurely or may be unwell. So it’s important to check that your health fund covers these circumstances.

You can find more information on the Pregnancy, birth and baby or Choice website.