Introduction to medicare and private health
You’ve been to the doctor, you have private health insurance, you know about medicare and private health right?
I thought I did, but I have learned a lot more about health in the last year. So I thought I would share.
I’ve covered the basics so perhaps you will know most of what I have written, but hopefully there are a few things that might help put together the complex system of health – and help you to get the most out of the system.
Part 1: The Medicare System & going to hospital
Medicare is Australia’s public health system. It allows people who don’t have sufficient money to get essential medical treatment – which I think is really great. While of course the system is not perfect (ask someone waiting for elective surgery), I think the Australian system is far better than the system in the USA (watch Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko if you are interested in a film directors view of the US health system as opposed to other countries).
Of course the private health system may allow you to get quicker treatment (and perhaps better options such as a private room). The government would prefer you used private health insurance to take the burden off the public Medicare system (I’ll explain the incentives for signing up to private health insurance later).
Going to hospital
There are private hospitals that only accept private patients and there are hospitals that allow both private and public (Medicare) patients.
For essential treatment (like an accident/emergency) you can get very similar treatment if you are admitted to hospital as a ‘public’ or Medicare patient or if you are admitted as a ‘private’ patient (using your private health insurance).
For non-essential treatment (like a new kidney), you can often ‘jump the queue’ by being a private patient as opposed to being under the Medicare system.
Under the Medicare system your hospital stay usually will not cost anything.
Under the ‘Private’ system, it depends on your private health policy. You will likely have to pay an excess and then hopefully have the rest of the costs covered under your private health insurance. As a benefit to the private system though, you may receive a better or private room and more say in how, when and who you are treated by.