Doctors’ fees cut to slice caesars
AS the number of caesarean births continues to rise the standard medical fee for the procedure has been cut by the federal government to ensure it isn’t being performed just to make more money.
The $180 reduction was ordered after a federal government task force warned there was a financial “incentive” to perform caesareans.
At the same time the medical fee for a complex vaginal birth has been increased by the same amount. The standard medical fee for both procedures is now $630.85.
Medicare Benefits Schedule review taskforce chair Bruce Hopkinson said medical experts agreed the fees for caesareans and natural deliveries should be aligned.
“The changes were adopted because it was felt that there had been an incentive for people to do caesareans,” he said.
“While we don’t have any evidence, we want to remove any financial incentives so the decision relies solely on clinical judgment.”
The task force was concerned that during a complex birth the higher fees for a quick caesarean made it a more attractive option for a practitioner than continuing to oversee a protracted and difficult vaginal birth. It recommended, and the government accepted, that the fee for vaginal births when an obstetrician takes over from a midwife or another doctor during labour be increased to $630.85 — up from $450.65. For caesareans, the fee has decreased from $811.05 to $630.85.
With delivery fees covered by private health insurers, women whose delivery fits this description will continue to have no out-of-pocket costs if their fund covers obstetrics.
The changes made last year do not affect obstetric delivery services for public patients.