What is shared care?
Shared care is an arrangement between a birth setting and a local practitioner, usually a GP. You see your GP for some pregnancy appointments, and you also have birth centre appointments in early and late pregnancy.
Very few birth centre offer shared care. If they do, it is an option only for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies.
In Australia, GPs who provide shared care must have extra training and qualifications and a special agreement with a birthing hospital.
Why some women like shared care
Some women like shared care because they’re familiar with their GP, their GP knows their medical history, and the care is usually close to home. If English is your second language, your GP might speak your first language and know about your cultural needs.
Finding a GP you feel comfortable with means that you can get to know each other and talk openly. A GP who knows you can help you make good choices about your care.
Looking into shared care
If you’re interested in shared care, check that your GP and birth centre offers this service. Or you could call the birth centre and ask whether there are any GPs who offer it.
Costs of shared care
If you’re eligible for Medicare and your GP bulk bills, GP appointments won’t cost you anything.
If the GP doesn’t bulk bill, you pay the difference between the GP fee and the Medicare rebate. In this case, shared care will cost more than having all your pregnancy care through the birth centre. If you’re going to a private birth centre, you’ll need to ask your GP and birth centre about the costs.
If you have private health insurance, it might cover some of the costs.