Many Australians are looking to expand their families with either their first child or by adding another to the flock.
Such family planning has even increased in the past decade or so, as Australia's population boom continues.
According to the most recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 307,000 Australian mothers gave birth to more than 312,000 babies in 2012 – a 3.4 per cent increase from 2011 and an impressive 21.5 per cent rise since 2003.
In fact, the birth rate is at its highest level in a decade.
It's also a good time to have a family, with Australia's healthcare system expanding with the times and technology helping to improve the standard of care delivered to many.
The country has a strong level of neonatal care, and a health insurance industry that offers plenty of choice. Many families planning on adding to their fold in the coming months or years will choose to look into their health insurance requirements to make sure themselves and their new additions are cared for to the highest possible level.
So, what does maternity insurance cover, and do you need it? Of course, it's up to the individual to decide the answer to the second question – though we can help shine a light on the first.
What is involved in maternity insurance?
1) You can choose your own hospital, obstetrician and other professionals
Choice is perhaps the biggest advantage of private maternity cover. A policy enables you to nominate the specialists that are on call and deliver your treatment. This relates to both the run up to labour in pre-natal care, as well as during labour and post-natal care.
Having a choice of hospital is also a benefit for many soon-to-be parents, with policyholders able to research and pick where they get their care administered.
2) You can receive private room accommodation
The accommodation costs for your hospital stay are more often than not included in the policy's coverage, as are labour ward fees.
This means you'll have a specific level of service during your stay, without having to front the costs of a private room.
3) Family health insurance
Once your baby is born, it can be placed on your family health insurance plan. Dependent children or a new born can be added to a family policy at no extra cost and be covered until the age of 21, or 25 if they are a full-time student. Some policies will allow extended cover for dependent adults.
If you have any questions or need help finding a family health insurance policy, it's best to get them answered in the early stages of family planning. Contact HICA on 1300 44 22 01 for free and impartial advice.