Change in costs to funders of maternity care over time: An analysis of Queensland births

Bonnie Eklom, Sally Tracy, Emily Callander

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Objective To describe change in costs to different funders over time for women giving birth in Queensland between 2012 and 2018. Methods A whole-of-population linked administrative dataset was used that contained all health service use in Queensland for women who gave birth between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2018 and their babies. Aggregated costs for mother and baby from pregnancy to 12 months postpartum were used to compare the change in costs to funders over time. Results There was an increase in mean total cost to all funders per birth in the public system and private system from 2012 to 2018. North West Hospital and Health Service (HHS) had the highest mean total cost (in Australian dollars) in 2018 (A$42 353), while home births had the lowest (A$6105). For the majority of HHSs the proportion of births with a positive birth outcome (as defined by a composite outcome measure) has remained largely static or declined during this time period. Cairns and Hinterland HHS and Townsville HHS had the largest declines of 15% and 16% respectively, while mean total cost to all funders rose 36.39% and 46.41%, respectively. Conclusions There has been an increase over time across Queensland in the cost of childbirth in public hospitals and in the private system, while the cost of home birth has remained static. For most HHSs this increase in cost is also associated with little change or a decline in the percentage of births with a positive outcome. Increases in cost are therefore not being translated into better outcomes for women and their babies. Routine performance monitoring of cost, quality and safety should be adopted to ensure the provision of high value maternity care in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-158
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian health review : a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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