Dispelling the Myths

Private hospitals provide health reassurance

Private hospitals do so much more than many Australians realise. Private hospitals delivered almost 70 percent of all elective surgery in Australia in 2015-16 and 60 percent of all admissions involving surgery. Private psychiatric facilities cared for more than 37,500 people in 2015-16 and 76 percent of rehabilitation was provided in the private sector.

Here are a few more things you might not know about private hospitals:

  • Private Hospitals offer a similar range of services to the public system

    FACT: Private hospitals do undertake complex treatments. In fact, in 2015–16, private hospitals provided 797 of the total 807 different procedures and treatments offered in Australian public hospitals, including complex surgery such as cardiac surgery.

    Private hospitals undertake about half of in-hospital chemotherapy, the bulk of hospital care for veterans, the majority of hip and knee surgery, eye surgery and in-patient rehabilitation. Private hospitals play a crucial role in obstetrics, speciality mental health care and palliative care.

    (AIHW 2017; PHDB Annual Report 2015-16)

  • Private Hospitals provide emergency care

    FACT: In 2015–16, 5.2% of all admissions (222,862 out of 4,327,287) to private hospitals required emergency care, that is, unplanned, non-elective clinical care required within 24 hours of admission. In the same period 26 private hospitals had dedicated emergency departments.

    Each year, private hospitals treat more than 350,000 non-admitted Accident and Emergency patients.

    (AIHW 2017:68, Table 4.3; 2017b)

    (ABS 2017)

  • Private hospitals train our future health professionals

    FACT: Private hospitals invested $167 million in 2014-15 to train Australia’s nurses, allied health professionals, doctors and midwives – and they could do more. The Education And Training In The Private Hospital Sector report (http://www.apha.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/APHA_WorkforceReport_FINAL_May17.pdf)from APHA and CHA showed private hospitals had increased their training investment by 250 percent and expressed a willingness to train more health professionals.

    In 2015-16 private hospitals employed 62,151 full time equivalent staff.

    (HWA 2013)

  • Using private health insurance in a public hospital is not good value for money

    FACT: Using your private health insurance in the public hospital system could lead to you paying out-of-pocket costs for care you are entitled to receive for free as a public patient.

    It will also hit your hip pocket in premium increases year on year, will offer you few, if any, private benefits you have paid for and might mean those on public waiting lists who cannot afford private cover have a longer waiting time for their care.

    Ending private health insurance use in public hospitals could save $1.5 billion from premiums immediately. Insurers say premiums could decrease by six percent if the rorting of private health insurance by public hospitals ended.

    AIHW data showed privately insured people were jumping public hospital waiting list queues – in fact public patients waited more than twice as long on average for treatment in the public system than privately insured people do (42 days over 20 days)

    (AIHW 2017)

  • You cannot always choose your own doctor using private health insurance in the public system

    FACT: Choice of doctor is not guaranteed in the public system. In fact survey results for people who have used their private health insurance in the public hospital system found only 40 percent of them were able to choose their doctor.

  • I can get a private room in the public hospital using by using my health insurance benefits

    FACT: While some public hospitals do have private rooms, access to one is not guaranteed. If you want the creature comforts you pay for through your health insurance, use your private hospital.

  • Private hospitals provide care to all Australians

    FACT: Care in private hospitals is more affordable than many people realise. In 2015–16, 2 in 5 (40.8%) of all Australian hospitalisations were in private hospitals—4.3 million out of 10.6 million. These included patients with or without health insurance, public patients and veterans.

    (AIHW 2017:215, Table 7.5)

    In 2015–16, 1 in 4 (26.1%) hospitalisations of patients from Australia’s most disadvantaged communities (the lowest socio-economic quintile of the Australian population) were in private hospitals. More than half (51.4%) of the elective surgeries for patients from these communities are done by private hospitals.

    (AIHW 2017: 63, Table 3.11; 186, Table 6.31)

  • Private hospitals provide a range of procedures from basic to complex health care

    FACT: Elective surgery isn’t only cosmetic surgery. In fact, it is often complex and life-saving procedures such as cardiac surgery and hip and knee replacements that get our patients up and enjoying life again quickly.

    In 2015–16, private hospitals and day surgeries treated 2 in 3 (1,482,819 out of total 2,216,153) elective surgery admissions.

    (AIHW 2017:184, Table 6.30)

  • Private hospitals come in all shapes and sizes

    FACT: Private hospitals are owned and operated by not-for-profit religious and charitable institutions or commercial enterprises. The services we provide to patients are partially or fully subsidised from sources including private health insurance funds, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, third party insurers and patients themselves.

    Public hospitals actually receive a significant amount from insurance funds. In 2016-17, public hospitals received $1.1 billion in benefits from health insurance funds. New South Wales received more than 50% of these benefit payments.

    (APRA: Private Health Insurance Membership and Benefits, June 2017)

  • Private hospitals meet a high standard of safety and quality

    FACT: All hospitals have to meet the requirements of the National Safety and Quality Standards developed by Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). In addition, private hospitals must be credentialed by State and Territory Governments to provide services to patients. We are proud of the standard of services we provide.



ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2017. Private hospitals, Australia, 2015–16. ABS cat. no. 4390.0. Canberra: ABS.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017. Admitted patient care 2015–16: Australian hospital statistics. Health services series no.75. Cat. no. HSE 185. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017b. Non-admitted patient care 2015–16: Australian hospital statistics. Health services series no. 76. Cat. no. HSE 188. Canberra: AIHW.

APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) 2017. Available online at http://www.apra.gov.au/PHI/publications/pages/industry-statistics.aspx, last viewed 17 August 2017.

HWA (Health Workforce Australia) 2013. Database last accessed on 26 March 2013. Available from http://data.hwa.gov.au.

MyHospitals 2013. Available online at http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/private-hospitals, last viewed 2 February 2014)

Private Hospital Data Bureau (PHDB) Annual Report 2015-16. Available: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-casemix-data-collections-publications-PHDBAnnualReports.

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