A Question Regarding Giving Birth in Australia

Hello and good day to you.

Its a while that I'm following your blog, and I have found interesting topics inside it. I have a question and I would be more than grateful to have your time and advise on it.

I wanted to ask you about Medicare. I and my wife are living in Malaysia. We hold PR visa of Australia and we plan to come there in the next couple of month.

We want to start having a family and have our first baby after we arrive in Australia. The thing is, my wife is approaching the risky ages for pregnancy, so we prefer to have our baby immediately after our arrival.

I've heard the permanent resident can get the medicare card once they arrive in Australia, but somewhere else I read before you want to use any insurance to cover the pregnancy costs, you should be subscribed to it for at least 12 months, and now I'm a bit confused about the policies. 

Can you advise me on this matter? If we get the medicare card after I arrive in Australia, would it immediately cover our pregnancy costs the way it did for you?
Thanks in advance for your helps.
With warm regards,

Hi Meysam,

The short answer is yes.

Quoting from this website [link], "Under Medicare you can be treated as a public patient in a public hospital, at no charge, by a doctor appointed by the hospital."

The key words are public hospital as a public patient. If you are fine with that, you'll have no worries. My experiences with the public hospitals we have been assigned to have been satisfactory so far. I hope you will have a pleasant experience too.

If you are not a public hospital person though, you can opt to use a private hospital, claiming the cost from your private health insurance. That being said, some health insurance companies would expect a 12 months subscription before they will accept the first claim. You can shop around and see if any company does not impose such a condition.

When I came to Perth, my wife was 5 months pregnant. I knew nothing about Medicare and I only learnt about private health insurance 2 years after I landed. Did I worry? Hell yes. I brought along very little cash and a baby delivery would easily wipe out more than 50% of my money. We did not even understood how Medicare worked and were too afraid to ask.

When we eventually walked out of the hospital with baby Albany on my arms, I waited at the counter but was told that I could leave. There was no charges because it was covered by Medicare. That felt amazing. Having said that, I would still make the move regardless I need to pay the costs or not. The life of my child, not my pocket, was my utmost priority. I saw little sense in staying in my country to deliver the baby to save a little money because I would have to spend money to get her to be approved for migration later on. Furthermore, it would be unsuitable and inconvenient to migrate with an infant, to a strange place I was not familiar with. Think about it. It is easier running around with an egg in the pocket than cracked runny yolk and white in your hands. Though many people thought I was rash to move to Perth with a pregnant wife, in my mind, there wasn't a single doubt that was the best decision.  Fortunately, I got that right.


  1. I thought I will write something since I am not certain nix actually answer the question as the writer appears to be confused between Medicare health insurance vs private health insurance.

    Medicare is a health insurance paid for by the government to all citizens and legible PRs and even certain refugee. This is paid for by taxes collected by the government, partly from a Medicare surcharge levy of 1.5% personal income tax above certain level. Medicare provides for basic essential medical (no dental) service in a public hospital. If you do not ask for special treatment, or a specific specialist to look after you (ie any specialist who work for the hospital is appointed to look after you) then you have no out of pocket costs to pay for your stay in hospital. Also Medicare can partly or totally cover the cost of seeing a GP chosen by you, how much you may have to pay depends on how the GP charges. Medicare does not pay for exotic, experimental or cosmetic surgery or treatment. Medicare does not cover ambulance cost, except if you are on a pension, but often people misuse it but don't pay the ambulance bill.

    Private health insurance is extra cover bought from commercial health insurance company, to cover extra perks like having a specialist of your choice looking after you in the hospital you are staying in, a private single bed room (public hospital can have 2 - 6 people sharing one room depending on the size of the room, can be mixed sex), television, nice ambient surrounding, better food, special surgery (but not many cosmetic operation). You pay the premium IN ADDITION to any taxes or levy you may have to pay for Medicare. Private health does not cover GP visits, but can partly cover the cost of ambulance, physiotherapy, optometrist, etc

    Self-funded patients are patients who want to be treated like a private patient, have Medicare but did not have private health insurance. These people have to put a lump sum to the hospital as a guarantee before they are treated as a private patient.

    Public government hospital can have Medicare (public) patient, self funded patient, or private patients.

    Private hospital only have self funded or private patient, no public patient (normally).

    If you go to a public hospital and get admitted for treatment as a public patient, you have no choice in who looks after you. You cannot ask for and expect a specialist, who have previously look after you, to look after you again for the new admission, unless the doctor wants to. The public hospital specialist does not have to see you every day; they can ask another doctor, often more junior to check on you on their behalf. this also means a more junior training doctor can be the one doing the operation if you need one. If you are unhappy with the treatment you received from the hospital, you can complain, but it does not mean you get your preferred specialist anyway. Generally there is a minimum standard for all specialist working in Australian hospital but how they treat one condition is not lays the same, as long as the treatment is considered as a reasonable option in Australia (not always what you prefer) the the specialist is doing their job and the hospital cannot fault them.

    If you are a private patient, you are more likely to see the specialist almost every day except weekend, and if you need surgery, the operation will be done by your own specialists (otherwise they cannot collect the money from your insurance).

  2. Just a specific note on child birth in public hospitals: depending where you are, your pregnancy can be looked after partly by midwives, with doctors sometimes involved in it on regular intervals but not all the time. If your pregnancy is not judged high risk you may be sent to a birth centre. Although some of these centre may have obstetrician specialist directly coming to the centre to look after complicated cases, there are others totally manned by midwife nurses with no obstetrician on call that comes to the centre if they are needed. When the woman need specialist care while giving birth, the midwife have to first identify there is a problem, and secondly admit that it is beyond their ability to look after the wpmn. Then they have to call another bigger hospital who do have obstetrician on call there to discuss the case, and then accept the care, organise an ambulance to transfer the woman to another hospital which can be about 30 to 60 minutes away (including traffic) assuming that an ambulance is already available at the birth centre.

    This is not to scare people, but to increase awareness to ask the right question (even many local Aussies doesn't know this).

    As for me, I work in healthcare, and I can afford to pay premiums, so I have private health insurance, as I know of doctors who I never want them to even touch me, much less look after me! But most of the time you should have no problem with most specialist in public hospital.