Public vs. Private

Private vs Public

If you’re deciding whether to go public or private for your upcoming hospital visit, there are quite a few differences between the two types of facilities and experiences.

Choosing to be admitted as a private patient can yield some great advantages over going public, especially if you need your surgery done in a timely manner.

Firstly, opting to go privately (and holding private health insurance in general) will allow you access to a large number of private hospitals across Australia, as well as the ability to be referred to surgeons/specialists that only work within the private sector, and do not see public patients.

The experience in a private hospital is generally considered to be of a higher standard than that of a public hospital, and the likelihood of being put in a private room is far higher in a private hospital than a public one.   

The other big advantage to going privately is the ability to avoid the public waiting lists, and be admitted at a time that suits you. Often, the public waiting lists (especially for major surgeries) can take months or even years depending on the procedure needing to be performed, which means you may be forced to wait and endure the symptoms of your ailment for far longer than expected.

 

So if I choose to go public instead, what’s difference does it make?

Going publicly for your admission does yield some major differences to going privately, and may (depending on the circumstance), be preferred to going privately.

One difference that is often highlighted when it comes to using the public system over being admitted privately is the cost. Being admitted into a public hospital as a public patient does not incur an excess to be paid, and the accommodation is fully covered under Medicare. However, in most circumstances, you will not have a choice which ward you’re placed in, and where your bed is situated for the length of your stay.

 

Can I go privately in a public hospital?

Yes, you can. If you hold private health insurance and you’re covered for the surgery/ailment in question, you can opt to go privately and pay your excess as a public hospital.  This is especially useful if you’re being admitted through the emergency department for an accident or unexpected illness, as it will mean you’re able to request a private room, or your doctor.

Keep in mind, if the public hospital you are admitted to doesn’t have the facilities available to provide you with a private room, you may still be placed in a ward with multiple people - in other words, you’ll have the same experience if you were admitted publicly.  Also, if you are offered a private room, it is important to ask if there will be any out of pocket costs involved, as depending on which state you’re in, there may be fees above the amount your private health is able to provide towards a private room.