When a person is admitted to a public hospital, the hospital should ask the person whether they wish to be treated as a public or private patient and explain the difference.
The right to choose
Everyone has the right to choose to be treated as a public or a private patient whether they have private health insurance or not.
Admission as a public patient
A person who chooses to be a public patient does not have to pay fees, but will be treated by a doctor who is on duty at the hospital at the time.
Uninsured private patients in hospitals
Someone who chooses to be treated as a private patient will be billed for accommodation by the hospital and for medical services by the doctor, even if they do not have private health insurance.
Admission as a private patient
A person who wants to be treated by a doctor of their choice may choose to be a private patient. The hospital then charges a daily fee.
Privately insured patients in public hospitals
In a public hospital, accommodation fees are fully covered by private health insurance if the patient has this cover.
Privately insured patients in private hospitals
Private hospitals can be very expensive, and there may be additional fees such as theatre fees. Even the highest level of private health insurance may not cover the whole cost, and patients may face expenses above those covered by their insurance. It is important to check before going into a private hospital what the fees will be and what is covered by your private health insurance.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.