But unlike your car insurance, the value of private hospital insurance is often questioned because of our free and perfectly adequate alternative: the public hospital system.
In this article, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of public and private hospitals in Australia, and the pros and cons of using your private hospital insurance in both.
The time you wait depends on a bunch of factors, a major one being whether you need emergency or non-emergency care.
In an emergency, you’ll be sent to your closest emergency ward and will generally be seen within 24 hours. Most of the time you won’t have a choice between public or private—emergency cases generally end up at public hospitals because that’s where most emergency ward are located.
Because you generally won’t have a choice of hospital in an emergency, we’ll focus on how long you’ll wait for non-emergency surgery (also known as elective surgery) instead. This is surgery that can be attended to after 24 hours, and includes things like knee reconstructions and tonsil removal.
In the public system, you cannot choose your time of treatment.
If you need elective surgery, you will be placed on a public hospital waiting list. When a surgery date becomes available, you’ll go in for treatment. If someone needs care more urgently than you, you will be bumped down the list.
More variation occurs when you look the procedure required and the hospital attended.