The Price of Delivering a Baby in Perth

There had been a burning question in my mind these 3 years. When my wife and I came to Perth, she was 5 months pregnant. I had a lot to do and worry about. Trust me, a lot. I never panic in front of her because female friends advised me to keep her mind off anxiety and keep giving mother and baby positive vibes. Truth to be told, I was anything but calm.

We rent a room, sharing the common areas of the house with our young Malaysian landlady Joanna, her sisters and another tenant. The rental of such an arrangement was $120 a week, as compared to $350 up for an entire house somewhere else. We reckoned that our limited funds, just S$10,000, would last 3 times longer as long as we keep our rental costs down. Simple maths really. The problem was, Joanna's offer was only valid till the arrival of our baby. We had to move somewhere else before that as well as giving ourselves time to settle down and prepare a suitable nest for our little one. On top of that, I had to find a job, any job - fast! I estimated I had only 4 months at best to make or break.

The disturbing question that plagued my mind day and night was how much it would cost to deliver a baby. You see, after buying our car (Barry White) for $2,500 and paying some rental, we didn't have much money left. Though my sisters and friends were parents, I had never asked them about the relevant costs to give myself a ballpark figure. At least then I could estimate twice or perhaps thrice the cost I would have to bear for delivering the baby in Perth.

For some reason, I remembered scanning through the entire website of hospital for cost breakdowns but I found none, much to my frustrations. Then I found a job that almost taxed my life out of me, which I gladly took on without hesitation and carried on with a preposterous grin despite my injuries and double minor eye operations. Time passed quickly and it was time to deliver our baby, Albany. By then, I should have at least A$10,000, since I worked several months of 12-14 hours night shifts with 20% night shift penalties and 1.5x overtime bonus for every hour after the 8th. I also clocked many hours of 2x on weekends during the Christmas period, one month before Albany was born.

I had $10,000. So bring it on.

As the story goes, I walked out of the hospital awkwardly holding a baby in the open for first time in my life. I loitered at the counter, expecting someone to guide me through payment. Nobody did. Then I realised, I didn't have to fork out a single cent out of my pocket. What a relief it was for me.

But no, don't go around telling people that the medical services in Australia is free. As we know, nothing (good) is readily free. Someone has to be paying my medical fees for me. They are the taxpayers. As I work longer in Australia, I too, will have to pay tax and return the favour. But for someone so new to the country and hardly pay much tax at that point, my "free" delivery cost was a lifesaver. I could then spend whatever savings I put aside since on giving mother and baby the much needed comfort and nutrition.

When I re-read the hospital information recently, I was amused how much information I couldn't digest 3 years ago. Costs are covered for patients who are eligible for Medicare. It was an unfamiliar term so I skipped it, thinking that it wasn't likely I would have anything to do with it. Of course, I was wrong. Permanent residents are eligible for Medicare coverage. I also missed out on the cost breakdown for overseas patients, all because I didn't think the term "overseas" applied to me, since I was in Australia. I was only half right. If we were to be in Perth on a student visa instead of a permanent resident visa, Jen would be considered an "overseas" patient.

So how much would it cost for us if we hadn't been covered by Medicare? I just found out about it.

Antenatal outpatient clinic - $223 per visit. On average 8 appointments may be required over the course of a full pregnancy. Since we came at the 5th month of pregnancy, we would have done 4 of such appointments instead. 

Accommodation fees (Mother)- $2,008 per day 

Obstetrician, Midwives and Neonatologist (OMN) - $2,825, $3,985 for complicated pregnancy.

Anaesthetist - $300 - $2,000 (majority of the patients incur about $300 - $600)

Visiting Midwifery Service - $223 per visit. We had a midwife visiting us every few days after we brought Albany home. We thought that was free because we didn't pay anything!

Breastfeeding Centre - $223 per visit. We went back once, because the midwife said Albany wasn't breastfeeding well and her weight gain wasn't satisfactory. Yeah, we thought that was free too.

Other costs:

All figures from KEMH
So now we have the full list of costs, Jen's pregnancy breakdown will look like that.

Accommodation: $6,024 (she stayed 3 days)
OMN - $3,985 (we had a complication)
Anaesthetist - $300?
Antenatal outpatient clinic - $892
Visiting Midwifery Service - $892
Breastfeeding Centre - $223
Radiology/Ultrasound - $365
Pathology - Didn't do in Perth

Total cost (if Jen was an "overseas" patient): $12,681

Why do I suddenly feel richer for no reason? I dodged a huge bullet by walking out of the hospital without paying. For even my $10,000 would not be big deal enough to handle it. If I were to come on a work visa instead of a permanent resident visa, I would be royally screwed.

Alright, I have no idea how does this compare to the figures in Singapore. My guess is it will be (much?) cheaper. Why don't you parents fill me in?


  1. Cost me < SG$7K all in about 11 years ago, at KKH A-ward + antenatal clinics + emergency C-section. I guess that's with all the medisave, medicare, cpf, etc. I did not have any insurance that covered maternity.


    Close to the same if you consider the much bigger difference in exchange rate 3 -5 years ago

    Australian public hospital not cheap (actually a lot of waste)! Private hospitals lagi about 100 to 200% and more

  3. Hmm, I think I should write about the cost of delivering my baby here in B.C., Canada. It may come as a shock to some. :))