4 Things to Consider Before Deciding on a Government or Private Hospital for Childbirth

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4 Things to Consider Before Deciding on a Government or Private Hospital for Childbirth

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Some people assume if it is free or cheap, it has to be of poor quality — especially if it has to do with healthcare. It’s been ingrained in our heads that the more expensive the medical facility, the better the doctors. Even I sheepishly thought that once and insisted on private healthcare when I first found out I was pregnant. What I wish I had known could have saved me a lot of anguish (and money) in the months to come.

That said, I definitely don’t regret the decision as my experience at a private hospital was exceptional. I do, however, wish I had done more research because when I least expected it, the unexpected happened. Halfway through my pregnancy, at only 24 weeks, I suffered Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membrane (PPROM). In layman terms, my water broke and there was a high probability I could go into labour early.

At barely the third trimester, the chances for my baby to survive were slim to nil. My doctor at the private hospital advised I check myself into a government hospital immediately as they did not have proper resources to tackle cases where babies were born before 28 weeks, apart from the obvious cost factor.

I followed suit, scared and distraught, and got admitted to the Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) — which turned out to be the best decision I ever took. Now 6 months later, I’m home with a happy and healthy baby.

My experience inspired me to write this article weighing the pros and cons of delivering at a government or private hospital. I also spoke to different mums to get their opinions, and coupled with the research I did online, came up with the 4 things I think you must consider before deciding what’s best for you and your unborn child.

1. Cost

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A major deal-breaker on whether to go for public or private healthcare is the cost factor. Malaysia’s healthcare is heavily subsidised by the government which makes it free for government officials and inexpensive for others.

As an example, it costs up to RM800 approximately for a caesarean birth at a government hospital, but you’ll need to shell out something like RM15,000 for the same at a private hospital. And that’s just for the delivery. You need to think about your antenatal and postnatal doctor visits too.

However, where you have those check-ups need not be the same place you deliver.

There is also an in-between option called the Full Paying Patients (FPP) Scheme which is available at Putrajaya Hospital and Selayang Hospital. With this scheme, you get the comfort and convenience of a private hospital in a government hospital but pay between RM2,000 and RM5,000 depending on the kind of delivery.

One mother I spoke to said she spent RM3,200 under this scheme and RM10,000 at a private hospital for another child. Both procedures were emergency C-section. When asked where she would want to deliver her next child, she was quick to choose FPP again – not only for the cost but for the service as well.

There are different kinds of delivery methods but the two main ways are either natural or Caesarean section (C-section). If you have a medical history of some sort that could interfere with a natural birth, you may need to have a C-Section which will cost significantly more.

Here’s a guide to what you would pay for maternity services in government hospitals.

CLASS

DAILY WARD CHARGES

For private / non-government staff

For government staff / pensioner

For foreigners /permanent residents

First Class

RM80 – 1 bed

RM60 – 2 beds

RM40 – 4 beds / more

Free

Free

Free

RM320

RM240

RM200

Second Class

RM30

RM3 / RM1.50 RM180
Third Class RM3 Free

RM160

And here’s a price guide according to different delivery methods at government hospitals.

Type of birth/delivery

First Class Second Class Third Class Foreigners

Caesarean

RM800 RM400 RM100 RM3,021

Forceps birth

RM400 RM200 RM50

RM2,593

Breech birth RM400 RM200 RM50

RM2,593

Normal birth RM300 RM150 RM10

RM2,593

Source: Hospital Selayang

Related: Here’s How Working Moms Can Strike a Balance Between Office and Kids

2. Convenience

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There’s a lot of factors when it comes to convenience. Comfort, location and just the overall treatment in both types of healthcare facilities could matter a lot.

Based on both my personal encounter and others I spoke to, visiting hours at a government hospital are strict. So if you want your husband or family members by your side all the time, a private hospital would be the better choice. Some mummies I spoke to said their husbands were not even allowed in the delivery room at a government hospital — but that may not be the norm at every government hospital.

Another mother I spoke to said her birth experience at a government hospital was great as she had a good midwife and doctor during the 5 hours of labour she had to endure. However, her afterbirth experience proved to be quite trying as a first-time mum with little to no help in taking care of the baby.

But she maintained that even her not-so-great post-delivery experience wouldn’t deter her to recommend a government hospital, mainly owing to the fact that they are better equipped to take on emergency cases.

Another mother, J.K, told me that if she had to choose between the two, she’d go to a private hospital. She added that the special care she received at a private hospital led to her decision. Another point that she noted was that at times you don’t get to choose a doctor at a government hospital and may get different doctors (some not as experienced as others) to check on you.

Related: 5 Important Things You Will Need as New Parents

3. Medical History

Image source: Leah Kelley / Unsplash

There can be a number of medical complications in a pregnancy. You’ll need to know what prenatal conditions run in your family such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, preterm labour, uterine fibroids and a few others. The best thing to do is to ask your family of any pre-existing conditions for you to be wary of.

Other factors to bear in mind are being overweight, underweight, lifestyle choices, prior miscarriages, and even advanced maternal age.

If you have any of the above or are worried about the status of your health, it is best to consult with a medical professional. The more complicated your situation, the higher the chance problems could occur during childbirth. If that being the case, you might want to consider a government hospital for its resources and low cost.

Related: 5 Simple Things Young Parents Can Do for Their Children’s Financial Freedom

4. Aftercare

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Giving birth is no easy task. They don’t call it labour without blood, sweat, and tears. That said, after bringing your little one into the world, all mums need now is that tender loving care.

Due to overcrowding of patients at government hospitals, care after delivery is straightforward and if the doctors think you’re fine, they will discharge you the soonest. However, for both types of hospitals, it all depends.

In a private setting, however, the nurses will help take care of your baby at night while you rest. On the contrary, government hospitals have a more hands-on approach where moms will need to care for their babies from the get-go – provided the baby is in good health.

Related: 6 Ways Women Can Save More on Taxes

Not many insurance plans that cover pregnancy-related costs

All of the above is just a guide of considerations towards delivering at either a government or private hospital. The quality of doctors and other medical staff do not differ between the two sectors as they have all been trained and educated in modern day practices.

If you are more inclined towards delivering at a private hospital though, you may want to consider a health insurance plan that covers prenatal and childbirth complications to safeguard your financial interests. There are only a few comprehensive insurance plans, like AIA’s A‑Plus Venus & A‑Plus Venus Extra, Zurich Malaysia’s Flex Maternity Care, Prudential’s PRUmy child plus, etc., which you can go for.

The most important thing is that you read the fine print and get complete clarity before signing up for a policy to minimise the scope of last-minute unpleasant surprises.

You may also like some of our other insurance-related blogs:

 

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