Beware hidden costs in private hospital maternity packages

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2010, 12:00am

Expectant parents are being advised to check private hospital maternity prices carefully after a survey found they can vary by as much as HK$190,000.

They should also be alert for additional charges over the basic price, the Consumer Council says.

Its survey of 10 private hospitals shows maternity packages cost from HK$13,100 to more than HK$200,000, with prices for a basic package for normal delivery having risen by 10 to 50 per cent since 2002.

While the council attributed the increase to inflation and improved services, an obstetrician said an influx of well-off pregnant women from the mainland had pushed prices up.

The cheapest package, in a six-person room for three days, costs HK$13,100 at Canossa Hospital.

The price soars when a patient moves into a private suite. Union Hospital charges HK$164,300 for a four-day private suite package for a normal delivery and HK$214,500 for a Caesarean with a five-day stay.

Couples expecting babies should also check if there are additional charges. 'They should be aware of what is included and what is not... Hospitals should also make pricing as transparent as possible,' council chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing said.

Meals for the mother are not included in packages of six hospitals, for example. Canossa Hospital, Adventist Hospital and Union Hospital charge HK$550 to HK$1,000 for forceps or vacuum deliveries.

A husband wishing to accompany his wife during delivery has to pay HK$300 at Canossa Hospital. At other hospitals, a husband may have to pay extra if he wants to enter the operating theatre during a Caesarean.

The council received one complaint about maternity services in the first five months of the year and two last year. A woman told this council this year that a private hospital told her it had raised prices 20 per cent after she had paid a HK$20,000 deposit.

Another mother said she had booked in advance for a delivery but no beds were available in the hospital after she gave birth. Dissatisfied with a temporary bed, she asked to move to a ward for expectant mothers whose beds had yet to be filled. Her wish was granted, but only after she paid a HK$180 'bed-shifting' cost.

Obstetrician Kun Ka-yan said demand for private deluxe suites had surged with affluent mainlanders entering local hospitals. Relatives and nannies could live in suites and care for the mothers, so suites were heavily occupied despite the high cost, he said.

Apart from higher room rates, people staying in deluxe suites might have to pay higher fees for operations and other services.

'Don't select a room simply because it looks nice, or you could go over the budget easily,' he said.

Extra fee

The amount a husband has to pay Canossa Hospital to accompany his wife during a normal delivery, in HK dollars,: $300