Public Versus Private Hospitals In Australia

Public Versus Private Hospitals In Australia
Even though there is a large debate in regards to Australia's public sector versus private hospitals, the fact of the matter is, the country does contain one of the world's fairest and most effective health systems. Over the past few years, the country has changed from a predominantly public health system, and swung the pendulum over towards private health.

Today, somewhere between 40 and 45 percent of the residents within Australia now have private health cover. Even though private hospitals and health care are more expensive for the average income earner than the public system, more and more Australians are choosing to get coverage by private insurance. Some of the largest insurance companies offering private health policies include Medibank Private and the recently popular Bupa Insurance.

Several significant government policies have come into effect over the last 15 years, making private health cover more attainable or more desirable. For example, a 30 percent rebate is provided to all private health insurance members, effectively making the package cheaper for individuals. Life time health coverage was also introduced for policy holders under the age of 30 years old in 1999, and a nation-wide tax of one percent was introduced to high-income earners that didn't hold private health insurance policies.

There are a number of significant differences that exist between private and public hospitals.
• The Australian health policy, Medicare, only covers treatment for patients in public hospitals. The health scheme covers 100 percent of costs for most surgeries and treatments in the public sector.

• Private hospitals generally contain specialist elective surgery, rather than emergency services. Therefore, the public hospital sector in Australia is where emergency treatments usually take place. Patients who want private care usually transfer to private hospitals following their emergency procedure. Otherwise, they choose to use their private cover to improve their meals and access private rooms in public hospitals.

• This leads into the next point, which is private hospitals offer exactly that – privacy. Single-occupancy rooms are available for patients in private hospitals.

• One of the main disadvantages of public hospitals is the waiting time. Private hospitals allow patients the opportunity to have the necessary surgery or treatments at their convenience. Private health care also enables patients to jump the queues in public hospitals.

• Patients in private hospitals can also choose their doctors, with more experienced surgeons and doctors available in these hospitals. Private hospitals do not offer the doctor training programs that public hospitals provide, so patients in public hospitals will have greater chances to be worked on by less experienced doctors.