The most important point to highlight firstly is that all four health insurance providers impose a 52 week waiting period for maternity benefits when you are taking out health insurance for the first time. This means that you have to be on the plan 52 weeks at the time you are giving birth, not before you conceive. All plans have to include some level of Maternity Benefits, regardless of age or gender, due to the minimum benefit legislation. So it would be important to act fast if you are hoping to be covered for maternity benefits.
The three options available – public, semi-private and private, all offer great maternity care, it is really down to your preference.
If you choose to go publicly, it is fully funded by the state. This includes GP appointments, pre-natal appointments and ultrasounds. You will be in a public ward in a public hospital and you cannot opt for a private room at the time of birth if you are a public patient all along. So even if you have private health insurance cover but choose to be treated publicly, you are not then entitled to a private room in a public hospital after you have given birth. So really it does not make a difference whether you have private health insurance or not should you choose to be a public patient. However, failure to familiarise yourself with all aspects of the cover could lead you to miss out on some additional valuable benefits such as post-natal home help and breastfeeding consultancy.
✔ The pros of public care
- Won't cost you anything
- You won't get inferior care by going publicly
✗ The cons of public care
- Due to pressure on resources in the public system, waiting times may be lengthy
- There may be fewer scans
- There may be more people to the room in hospital
- You may not see the same person every time
Semi-Private treatment is only available in Dublin hospitals. You would attend a consultant’s team in a private clinic in a public hospital. You may have some of your appointments with your GP which is known as combined care. You may have a semi-private room but this is subject to availability. Most plans on the market cover the cost of the room (which is €813 per night) and the delivery. You would pay the consultant directly for your pre and post-natal appointments. You may be able to redeem some money back on certain plans; this amount varies on each plan.
✔ The pros of public care
- Visits may involve less waiting time than the public system
- Your obstetrician or a member of his or her team will be available in case of complications but you may not need to see them and will be attended by midwives.
✗ The cons of semi-private care
- The cost of this type of care can be expensive and will depend on what kind of health insurance you have as all fees may not be covered.
- Only available in Dublin
- This type of care is becoming so popular it is often difficult to get an appointment.
If you choose to go privately in a public hospital, you will choose your own consultant and pay them directly. Your appointments would all be with this consultant. You may avail of a private room in a public hospital but again this is subject to availability. Most plans will cover the cost of the room which is €1,000 per night and the delivery.
✔ The pros of private care
- Less waiting time than in the public service
- You will see your consultant at each antenatal visit
- Your obstetrician will attend your baby's birth
- If available you will be given a private room with your newborn
- Easier to contact your consultant directly if you have any questions
✗ The cons of private care
- This is the most expensive maternity option
- Your obstetrician may not be available for the birth and another doctor will attend
Maternity Benefits - Who pays what?
Health Insurance Provider (available on most plans)
Nothing (other than additional extras that may be included which vary from one provider to another)
Semi - Private
(€1,000 - €2,000)
Cost of Semi-Private Room (€813 per night), delivery fees, consultant fee contribution
(€2,000 - €6,000)
Cost of Private Room (€1,000 per night), delivery fees, consultant fee contribution