Public versus private. It’s a debate that rages across many sectors – education, healthcare, even transport! When it comes to healthcare, which is better? Why would you choose to be a private patient in hospital when the public system is free?
Here, we explore the benefits of being a private patient. Remember, to really make the most of these benefits – and not be left with the risk of huge out-of-pocket expenses next time you go to hospital – you will need a suitable health insurance policy.
If you are a private patient, you can choose your own doctor or specialist.
This can be reassuring if continuity of care is important to you. For example, you may already be seeing a specialist for a condition, and now need to be admitted into hospital for that condition. It’s good to know that your same specialist can treat you throughout, and also be there for follow-up consultations.
Some people really value being able to access the very best specialists in particular fields. Obstetrics is a common one here. Many couples who are planning to have a baby want the reassurance that they can use the services of an obstetrician that has been recommended to them.
Indeed, in a recent survey 36% of respondents said that the main reason they take out private health insurance is so that they have a choice of hospital or doctor*.
As a private patient, you can choose which hospital you are treated in. This includes whether you choose a public or private hospital – as you can be a private patient in a public hospital.
Why does it matter which hospital you are treated in? You might want to choose a private hospital that is close to home, or one that you know has a fantastic reputation. For some people, the simple fact that private hospitals are fancier than public hospitals – with better food and more comfortable rooms – is important. Private hospitals tend to feel calmer and less stressful; they can be a more pleasant environment to recover in.
For some people, elective surgery can be one of the let-downs of the public system. If you need non-urgent surgery – which could be anything from wisdom teeth removal to a hip replacement, gall stone removal to heart bypass – then you could be waiting a long time. In the public system, waiting lists for non-urgent procedures can be lengthy.
Through the private system, on the other hand, your specialist doctor should be able to treat you quickly in a private hospital. It means you can get on with your recovery – and your life –more quickly.
If you are like many others, the last thing you want when you are sick and vulnerable is to share a room with a complete stranger.
In a private hospital, you are much more likely to get your own room. And, with private health insurance, you can request a private room in a public hospital (although you may not get one if they have given all the single rooms to patients that are very ill).
When you need emergency or acute care, the public hospital system in Australia shines. Recent research out of Sydney University found that people generally have positive experiences in the public system for emergency procedures**. And, of course, the public system is free.
But if you want continuity of care with your choice of doctor, in your choice of hospital, and shorter waiting lists for non-urgent procedures, then you may prefer to go with the private system.
iSelect does not compare all products in the market. Not all products are available at all times.
*PHI premium increases, Galaxy Research prepared for iSelect, February 2017