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A Guide to Being a Private Patient in a Public Hospital

When you are admitted to a hospital, you can choose between being treated as a public or private patient. As an Australian citizen, you can receive free healthcare through Medicare at any public hospital. Even if you have private health insurance, you can still access the benefits of Medicare. However, if you have private health insurance, you may be interested in knowing the advantages of being a private patient in a public hospital.
Fact Checked

Updated: 19 May 2024

Private health insurance offers benefits like quicker medical treatment, more doctor and hospital options, and better facilities. But not all procedures are covered, and you may still have to pay out-of-pocket. Whether to choose private or public care depends on your situation and needs. Keep reading for more information on the pros and cons and how to handle public hospital admission.

Key facts

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The Difference Between Being a Private vs Public Patient

Choosing to be a private patient in a public hospital has some distinct differences. As a public patient, Medicare covers all your accommodation, medical and diagnostic services, doctor and specialist fees, prostheses, and other relevant services. However, you may need help to choose your doctor or access certain perks like a single room.

On the other hand, as a private patient with an applicable Hospital cover policyMedicare pays up to 75% of your hospital fees, and your private health insurance provider typically covers the remaining costs. You may have more control over planning your treatment, shorter waiting times for elective procedures, and the option to choose your doctor or specialist if available.

Private Patient
Public Patient
You can choose your doctor or specialist.
The hospital assigns Doctors and specialists.
Access to a single hospital room if available.
Room allocation is typically shared with other patients.
Shorter waiting times for elective procedures.
Waiting times may be longer for non-urgent treatments.
Additional perks like early discharge and tests.
Limited access to certain perks and services.
Possible out-of-pocket expenses due to gap fees.
Most services are covered by Medicare with no gap fees.

Benefits of Choosing a Public Hospital

Opting for a public hospital can offer several advantages. Public hospitals generally have access to a broader range of services, making them ideal for those with complex health conditions or needing emergency care. They are typically more cost-effective since Medicare covers most of the expenses.

Public hospitals can be a more practical choice for people living in rural areas, as they often provide essential healthcare services without the need for extensive travel.

Why Choose a Public Hospital Over a Private Hospital

Opting for a public hospital over a private hospital can be a practical decision for various reasons. Here are some compelling factors to consider: