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If cost was the main consideration, most of us would probably not have babies. Fortunately, as most parents who take the leap agree, having a baby is a blessing even with the additional costs that come with the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

 

The financial-savvy parent also knows that long before you hold that lovely bundle of joy in your arms, there are expenses aplenty. While the list of bills from pre-conception to childbirth may be daunting for some, especially during these recessionary times, take heart: It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The “cost centres” of parenthood can be divided into five stages:

 

1. Pre-delivery and delivery costs
2. Infant care (2-18 months)
3. Child care (18 months to 7 years)
4. Primary, secondary school and junior college/polytechnic
5. University

 

Remember you are not paying for your child’s 21 years of development at one go! The costs may add up over two decades but they are all spaced out. With a little budgeting and planning, you too can be ready to take those first baby steps on the road to parenthood. Here are some often-asked questions on the hows and how much.

 

What do I need to consider financially before we try for a baby?

 

While cash flow management and budgeting are necessary, there is probably no need to set aside a huge contingency fund. Although expenses may rise starting from pregnancy — obstetrician visits, a new pregnancy wardrobe, etc — talking to other experienced parents will give prepare you mentally for the expenses involved. Discuss with your spouse the financial arrangements once Baby arrives: Will the mother stop working and will the father’s income be able to cover all daily expenses including baby’s costs? Will you need to hire domestic help?

 

For the mother-to-be, it is advisable to check your insurance policies to find out if pregnancy complications are covered. Some medical reimbursement policies, such as Great Eastern’s SupremeHealth or TotalShield, include pregnancy. That means you won’t have to worry about blowing a hole in your pocket if potentially costly procedures such as an ectopic pregnancy or emergency C-Section are required.
 

Selected women specific term or life policies may also cover pregnancy complications as well as congenital abnormalities. However, these may be costly. It is also prudent to note that some policies have a waiting period of a few months to a year before any claims can be made.

 

I should start looking for an obstetrician. How much does a doctor cost?

 

If you don’ t already have a regular gynaecologist-obstetrician, it’s time to shop around. Depending on whether you’re opting for a private doctor of your choice or checking in as a private or subsidised patient at a public hospital such as KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), fees may vary significantly.

 

At KKH, charges range from $25 to $80 for first consultation depending on the doctor’s seniority, with subsequent consultations ranging from $23 to $55. To qualify for subsidised rates, a referral by a polyclinic or by a restructured hospital where the patient is already a subsidised patient, is required.

 

I’ve heard the cost for childbirth and delivery can be very high, is this true?

 

It doesn’t have to be. Again, costs vary depending on the delivery procedure, as well as the type of ward you’re staying in. Hospitalisation packages at KKH start from $920 for a normal delivery with two-day stay in a four-bedded ward. For parents who prefer a room to themselves, prices start at $1,550 for a normal delivery.

 

If you require a C- Section, expect to pay more. For C-sections, a four-bedded ward package with a three-day stay costs $1,700 while those opting for a single-bedded package will be charged $2,300.

 

However, while these basic packages cover standard procedures and supplies, as well as delivery suite or operating theatre charges for up to 30 minutes, KKH’s Maternity Package does not include doctor’s fees and all neonatal related charges.

 

For a comparison of bill sizes by hospital, log on to the Ministry of Health website (www.moh.gov.sg) and click on the Hospital Bill Size tab.

 

We’ve been trying for some time but haven’t been successful. We’d like to try IVF but it’s so costly.

Trying to get pregnant may be the “fun” part for many couples but for others, it may not be so easy. The good news: the Singapore government’s co-funding scheme for Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP), provides some relief. Implemented late in 2008 as part of the government’s Marriage and Parenthood package, couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation can now claim up to 30 per cent of the bill for up to three cycles in public hospitals such as KKH, National University Hospital (NUH) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Since the scheme was announced, couples have been able to seek help at public hospitals where each IVF cycle is less costly, between $7,000 and $10,000, as compared to up to $15,000 in private hospitals.

 

On top of the government’s co-funding, couples can further use their Medisave for the remaining portion of the bill, also for up to three tries: $6,000 for the first cycle, $5,000 for the second and $4,000 for the third.

 

Finally, how much of our Medisave can be used?

 

The Medisave Maternity Package enables you to use your Medisave for delivery and pre-delivery medical expenses up to your fourth delivery. Under the package, Medisave can be used for pre-delivery medical expenses as well as delivery and daily hospital charges. The withdrawal limit depends on delivery mode ($900for a normal delivery to $2,850 in case of a C-section with hysterectomy). For more details on the Medisave Maternity Package and Medisave withdrawal limits, log on to http://mycpf.cpf.gov.sg

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