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What I wish someone had told me before I fell pregnant …

iSelect pregnancy coverWe’ve all heard the line ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’, but what more would-be parents need to know is ‘what you need to know before you’re expecting’.

Health insurance is one of those things you need to know if you’re considering adding a little one to your family. First and foremost, making sure your cover actually includes pregnancy insurance if you want the option of having your baby privately.

Having private health insurance doesn’t mean you are automatically covered for pregnancy and obstetrics. You need to review and revise your current plan before you are pregnant.

Research by health insurance experts iSelect conducted in late 2015 revealed that 47 per cent of women who were pregnant or had given birth in the last five years were either unaware or unsure of the need to be covered for pregnancy for 12 months before claiming for pregnancy and birth-related services through private health insurance.

Cheaper budget and basic private health insurance policies do not cover pregnancy, and not all mid-range policies do either, so it’s important to check your level of cover and see whether it includes pregnancy. If not, you’ll need to take out or upgrade your cover before you start trying for a baby.

Natalia, 30, from Adelaide amended her health insurance plan 18 months before her first baby.

“I explored private health insurance options, as I’d never had it previously and I wanted to ensure that the plan I selected included pregnancy benefits,” she said.

“But, so many of my friends were not aware of the 12-month waiting period.”

The iSelect research also found that more than one in 10 women delivered their baby in a public hospital instead of a private hospital for the simple reason that they didn’t upgrade or take out private health cover prior to conceiving.

iSelect spokesperson Laura Crowden said this suggests thousands of new parents are upgrading too late and wasting their money because of an inability to claim on pregnancy and birth costs.

“It’s concerning that a similar number of new mothers are not delivering their babies in the hospital of their choice, not due to lack of finances but simply because of poor timing,” she said.

“A good rule of thumb is to take out pregnancy cover three or four months before you begin trying for a baby as this will ensure you have the crucial 12 month waiting period covered off.”

With the help of iSelect, Natalia was able to study and compare different levels of plans available through her provider to ensure she was getting the best value, whilst not missing any integral benefits that she would need during and post-pregnancy.

One of the biggest benefits to ensuring you have pregnancy in your private health cover is the ability to have the hospital and obstetrician of your choice plus a private room, and a significant portion of the costs related to the hospital delivery itself.

Other benefits vary between hospitals and depend on your level of private cover. For example, your partner may be able to stay overnight with you, with some private hospitals offering double beds while others offer night nurseries which gives new mums a chance to catch up on their sleep. Some private hospitals have partnered with luxury hotels to give new mums, if their delivery has gone well, the opportunity to recover in a luxury hotel suite where they and their partner can enjoy room service and movies, with a midwife on stand-by to help with their newborn.

“I liked the fact that my provider was able to give me access to a newborn support program for free as part of my plan,” said Natalie.

“As a first-time mum I received frequent calls from qualified midwives on a monthly basis to see how I was tracking with my bub and if I had any concerns.

“They were incredibly helpful and were also very much about ensuring self-care for the mother as well as the baby”.

Once babies are no longer on the cards, a mistake parents often make is keeping obstetric cover, long after they are finished having children.

“From a financial point of view, it’s pointless to be wasting money on pregnancy cover if you are confident that your baby-making days are behind you,” Laura said.

Laura said that when parents make the decision to stop having children, it’s important to review their current private cover against their family’s actual requirements.

“Not only may this mean dropping off things like obstetrics, it can also mean adding extras items like optical or orthodontics.”

“Working through all the options and insurance jargon can be difficult and confusing so it’s a good idea to speak with a private health insurance expert before making any decisions,” said Laura.

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This blog post is sponsored by iSelect

Australia’s leading private health insurance comparison service iSelect is encouraging parents, expectant parents, and those ‘expecting to be expecting’, to educate themselves about their pregnancy insurance options, in particular the standard 12-month waiting period that must be served before you can claim on hospital costs relating to child birth.

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