Yesterday a Westmead Public Hospital nurse who I know was telling me her brother’s partner recently had a baby at Westmead Private Hospital. She was not insured. She said she was charged $4000 for her management fee and another $4000 for her delivery fee. The obstetrician received $8000 plus Medicare rebates. As well she would have had to pay an anaesthetist (if she had an epidural), the paediatrician, and the hospital bills.

I was upset about the excessive obstetrician bill.

I have always been conscious of the financial pressures of many of my patients  and so have limited my fees to what was necessary to cover practice overheads and other expenses. I have never ‘overcharged’. Indeed, my fees have not increased for a number of years, because I am aware of how money is tight for many patients. I have absorbed practice overhead increases without passing them on in increased fees. Each night on the news there is reporting about the increasing cost of rents, home loan interest rates, electricity, supermarket items and more items. I find this information upsetting and so would prefer to charge less. I would prefer to get less money and women to be able to go private  for pregnancy management, which many would prefer, than to have to use the public hospital system for pregnancy for financial reasons.

Sadly, my attitude is not shared by many younger obstetricians who look on being an obstetrician as more of a business rather that an dedication. For many their attitude is like many other industry professionals. It is one of “how much money can I make from this patient”,  without consideration of affordability. Sadly, patients who don’t shop around often end up paying more than is needed. Also don’t assume that because an obstetrician charges more that obstetrician is better. The opposite is usually the case. It is the younger less experienced and poorly clinically trained obstetrician who usually charges the most.

I have some patients who are not insured who see me for pregnancy care and are confined as public patients in the public system. This can give them good quality private antenatal care, but sadly I am not involved on day they give birth and cannot officially give input into decision pertaining to that. I can suggest delivery management but have no ability to control their delivery management. I have an uninsured patient now who I have managed antenatally. I have diagnosed the baby as having severe growth retardation. I have suggested public hospital management and the hospital doctors are following my suggestions about baby monitoring and early induction of labour.

I strongly recommend you shop around for pregnancy care costs and don’t assume all obstetricians charge the same.

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