Comparing your public and private hospital options

When it comes to choosing public or private healthcare it’s worth knowing the difference between the two.

Here, we explain the basic differences so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. 

Public hospital treatment 

Under Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare system, any Australian resident can be treated as a patient in a public hospital, usually free of charge. As a public patient, you can’t choose your own doctor and you may have to go onto the public waiting list for your procedure. Just how long you’ll have to wait varies depending on the treatment you’re receiving and where you live. 


Deciding on whether to go into private or public hospital

Private hospital treatment 

If you have private health insurance that includes hospital cover you can choose to be treated as a private patient at either a private or public hospital*. 

The table below outlines some of the key differences between public and private hospital treatment options. (Keep in mind that waiting lists for elective treatments may still apply.)

As a private patient, you will have more flexibility when it comes to your healthcare and can usually choose your own specialist, generally be seen quicker for elective procedures and decide when you’ll be treated. You can also request a private room depending on availability and clinical need.

It’s important to note however, that private patients may need to pay some out-of-pocket expenses. We recommend contacting us on 132 331 before booking in any treatment to make sure your procedure is included in your cover and to discuss any out of pockets


Did you know?

98% of private hospitals were rated at least 8/10 by our members. Find out more about Medibank’s Hospital experience scores. 


Here we compare some real people's experiences

Want to find a specialist or Members' Choice Advantage Hospital?

Take the guesswork out of choosing a specialist with our Find a Provider tool. Find a provider

How much does my procedure cost?

See the costs involved in more than 40 common procedures like hip and knee replacements, ACL repair, and many more with our Procedure cost estimator .

Looking for something else?

Visit our Hospital Assist homepage for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your hospital journey.

Help the way you want it

Contact us 

Call us on 134 190 to speak to a consultant. Alternatively, chat to us 24/7 online.

Self-service options

Login to MyMedibank or Download the MyMedibank App for self service options.

Find a specialist

Find a specialist or Member's choice hospital using our find a provider tool.

Things you need to know

* This is provided the treatment is included under your policy and you have served your waiting period.

 ¹ The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report, ‘Elective Surgery Waiting Times 2017 -18: Australian hospital statistics.’ Released December 2018

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).