What is shared care?
Shared care is an arrangement between an obstetrician and local practitioner (GP or midwife). You see your local practitioner for some pregnancy appointments, and you also have some appointments with your obstetrician.
If you live in a rural area, some of your regular pregnancy appointments might be with your GP.
Shared care is an option only for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies.
In Australia, GPs who provide shared care must have extra training and qualifications.
Private shared care isn’t widely available in Australia. A few GPs and private hospitals have special agreements that let GPs provide pregnancy and birth care.
Occasionally, a private obstetrician will agree to share your pregnancy care with your GP, but your private obstetrician will be at the birth.
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.
Arranging shared care
If you’re interested in shared care, check that your GP and/or obstetrician offers this service. Or you could check for GPs or obstetricians who offer shared care in your area by contacting the private hospital directly.
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. If your private obstetrician agrees to share your care with your GP, it’s likely to cost less, because you will have fewer appointments with your obstetrician.
If you can arrange a GP to provide your pregnancy and birth care at a private hospital, this is also likely to cost less than having a private obstetrician.
Check your private health insurance for coverage. If you don’t have private health cover, there will be quite big costs.