Having a baby has never been cheap, but new research has found modern-day mums are paying a lot more to raise a child.
In fact, a study by the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University in Townsville suggested the out-of-pocket costs of having a baby have increased by more than 1,000 per cent over the past 25 years.
The report, published on SciMex.org, suggested that out-of-hospital costs continue to rise dramatically, meaning now is probably the costliest time in Australian history to raise a child. It also found that in-hospital rates have also jumped substantially, although they have risen by just 77 per cent over the same time period.
When analysing data, researchers found that new parents over the past decade saw the biggest hike in prices, while new mothers are possibly foregoing care because of unrealistic costs.
While Australia does have a universal healthcare system, the study has found out-of-pocket charges are higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average, especially when considering the Medicare Benefits Schedule and how it relates to obstetric care.
The research analysed annual statistics published by the Department of Health for services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1984 to 2017. The data found that since 2008 and 2009, there has been a drastic shift in the price people are paying for health associated with child birth. The period between 2016 and 2017 had the highest price, with in-hospital goods and services costing an average of $781.07 and out-of-hospital charges averaging $264.98.
The study took into account price inflations so dollar values from the past matched those of the 2016 and 2017 period. This meant that mothers in 1992 and 1993 were paying $442 for their in-hospital services and just $23.35 for the out-of-hospital expenses.
The dramatic increase of costs rose in all locations across Australia, while people living in major cities were higher than the national average.
The study suggested it could be the increasing costs of running specialist clinics that has resulted in the higher costs for patients. “Australian doctors have expressed concern that Medicare Schedule Fees have not kept pace with the rate of inflation (which is around 2–3% ) and are not a true reflection of the cost of providing a specialised health service,” the report read. “Additionally, medical providers have been faced with soaring medical indemnity insurance costs in recent years. This is likely to account for some of the increases in out- of- pocket charges for obstetric items.”