public versus private – why pay more?

So, I was at a hens party for a very close friend last night. 

Despite not being able to drink (well, I may have had a glass of wine) I had a great time and luckily there were a few other pregnant women and new mums to chat to.  I did feel sorry for some of the other girls who kept getting sucked into to our gasbagging about baby names, doctors, health etc! 

One issue that kept popping up was private vs public health care.

I was surprised at the number of women who had opted for private when a) the public medical system in Australia is so good and b) the cost of going private is so high (I’ve heard around $4,000 out of pocket AFTER claims, even with full cover), especially considering many of these women are scraping money together to pay a mortgage etc.

I’ve always been a big fan of public health and only signed up to private to reduce my tax bill. 

Luckily I am in a position to be able to afford private if I wanted to, but I’ve always found better uses for my hard earned moolah.

Besides, if anything serious happens you have to go to a public hospital anyway, so what’s the go?  Am I missing something? 

Am tempted to think it’s purely snobbery but perhaps there are other more convincing reasons people have for going private.

I know my local private hospital puts new mums up at a nice hotel after the birth so their partners can stay over, they can enjoy decent room service and have water views…but I don’t plan to be in hospital long after the birth anyway.

And for a couple of days of crappy hospital food (was planning on getting takeaway anyway) I could use that extra $7k for an extended holiday with baby, which could be madness in itself.

Another new mum suggested that rather than attend the birth classes provided by the hospital I give her midwife a call.  This midwife runs a five week course (two hours per week) for $2000. 

My first thought was, if this midwife isn’t putting this through the books (and even if she is) she’s got a real cash cow on her hands.

The second was, what’s the difference? 

Apparently, in hospital they show you “bad 80s DVDs with lots of grunting and hairy bits”.  The midwife also shows similar DVDs but “more recent”.  Oh, she also serves supper.

Is that worth the extra $2,000?  Or would I be better off putting this money into a savings account for whatever my child needs on a rainy day?

Melissa Maimann has an excellent post on this topic but I’m still undecided.

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