Having a baby in a private hospital in South Africa can be a costly affair. Depending on which private hospital you choose to have your baby and the rates of your obstetrician-gynaecologist, anaesthetist and paediatrician, you can expect the final bill to be as much as R45,000. Even if you have medical aid, you may still have to fork out several thousands from your own pocket.
Medical aids in South Africa do pay for childbirth delivery costs. However, your scheme may not cover the rates of private doctors/specialists, whom these days charge significantly higher cash rates. While you can be assured that you and your baby will be covered for the hospital’s bills in full on medical aid, you have to be cautious about the bills from all the doctors involved.
Caesarean Section (C-Section)
Many women now opt to have a caesarean section (C-section) at the time of their choosing, usually during or just after the 37th week of pregnancy. Elective caesareans as it is known are technically not covered by medical aid since it is a procedure of choice but most schemes do cover it. However, it is a significantly more expensive childbirth delivery route than a natural birth. The costs of the theatre, anaesthetic and so on can add greatly to the final bill.
There are three medical specialists who are involved during the childbirth and for baby’s aftercare. This includes the gynaecologist-obstetrician who performs the procedure, the anaesthetist who administers the anaesthetic and the paediatrician who tends to baby immediately after delivery in the operating theatre. Sometimes an assistant gynaecologist may also be present. Your medical aid will pay around R5,000 for the gynaecologist-obstetrician, about R2,000 for the anaesthetist and approximately R1,000 for the paediatrician.
However, the specialists may charge their own rates. It is not uncommon for a gynaecologist-obstetrician to charge around R12,000 for a C-section, the anaesthetist may request R5,000 and the paediatrician may bill you around R2,000. These private rates differ among practitioners and some specialists will gladly accept the medical aid rate.
Most private hospitals in South Africa do not charge rates higher than what your medical aid pays for childbirth and delivery. The first day of confinement costs around R12,000 and the final bill for baby and mother may come close to R40,000. It is for a standard 3 day stay for the mother in the general maternity ward and for baby in the nursery.
Mothers who do not have medical aid should enquire about special maternity packages at the private hospital of their choice. These packages often cost less than the medical aid rates but usually has to be paid upfront prior to delivery.
Baby Care Costs
Baby’s stay in a private hospital immediately after birth is not extremely costly if baby is in good health. However, should the newborn baby need special medical attention in high care or the neonatal ICU then the bill can be significantly higher. Here as well your medical aid will pay for baby’s stay in high care or neonatal ICU, with the latter costing as much as R16,000 per day depending on the level of care needed.
Without medical aid, many parents may be unable to afford high care or neonatal ICU for their baby. It is therefore important that parents financially prepare themselves for the possible costs of having baby stay in hospital longer than expected. Mothers are usually discharged three days after giving birth. Should mothers wish to stay on while baby is high care or neonatal ICU, then the bill rests on the mother to settle in cash. Medical aids do not cover this longer stay for mothers.