All regulated health professionals have been required, since 1 November 2010 when the new National Health Practitioner Regulation law came into effect, to have professional indemnity insurance.
There is no insurance product that covers homebirth, which is the mainstay of private midwifery practice. An exemption from indemnity insurance for homebirth has amended the requirement for insurance, and this is in effect until 30 June 2013.
Midwives who practise privately have the choice of two insurance products. One of these, from MIGA, is the only one that will provide intra-partum cover for Medicare-eligible midwives to attend certain hospital births, as it has government backing. The other product, from Vero Mediprotect insures midwives for provision of private prenatal and postnatal services and education, but excludes birth. [These links are included for information only, and this statement should not be construed in any way to direct midwives to one particular product.]
Recent developments with regard to insurance have been outlined at the MiPP blog, since we learned that a 'mandatory reporting' notification was made of a midwife who was considered to be practising without insurance. We understand that this midwife was in a public hospital with a woman who had planned homebirth. After transfer of care to the hospital, the midwife continued in a supportive role with the woman: the usual practice in Australia when women transfer from planned home birth to hospital care.
There seems a small window for those with MIGA insurance if the woman is admitted ‘private’. The MIGA-insured midwife then may be covered.
Most hospital backup booking arrangements that are made by or for women who are planning homebirth are with public hospitals. The possible pathway that is being looked at is that the woman is admitted as a 'private' patient in the public hospital. Some larger hospitals have 'in house' obstetricians. In this case the obstetrician on call at the time of admission will assume responsibility for the care of the woman and baby. Other hospitals have local obstetricians, paediatricians, and obstetrically qualified GP's on roster, to be called in for public as well as private patients.