Commonly Asked Questions

Are accidents treated in a public or private hospital?

If you ever have an accident that requires urgent medical treatment, you’ll automatically be admitted to a public hospital Emergency Department for immediate treatment. On some occasions though (if the injury isn’t life threatening, for example), you may be asked if you’d like to be admitted and treated as a public or private patient. In those instances, it’s important to know your rights so here’s a quick rundown of the choices available to you:

 Public hospitalPrivate hospital
 Public patientPrivate patientPrivate patient
How quickly will I be treated?

Elective
Straight away (provided you've served your waiting periods).

Emergency
You'll receive immediate treatment for urgent or life threatening conditions. 

Elective
As soon as a spot becomes available (provided you've served your waiting periods).

Emergency
You'll receive immediate treatment for urgent or life threatening conditions.

Elective
You'll go on a waiting list and you could be waiting for weeks (even months, and over a year in some cases).

Emergency
You'll receive immediate treatment for urgent or life threatening conditions. 

Do I get to choose my own doctor?Yes, unless it's an emergency and your chosen doctor isn't available. Yes, providing your chosen doctor is eligible to work in that public hospital and it's not an emergency.  No, you'll be treated by whichever doctor is appointed by the hospital. 
Do I get to choose which hospital I go to?Yes, providing your chosen hospital can accommodate you and the required facilities are available. Yes, providing your chosen hospital can accommodate you and the required facilities are available. No, you'll be treated by whichever doctor is appointed by the hospital. 
Can I get a private room?Yes, if one is available. (Out-of-pocket expenses may apply if you don't have the right level of HIF Hospital cover). Yes, if one is available. Other patients may have priority depending on their medical needs. Possibly, but only if available and generally only if it's medically necessary. 
Do I have to pay for my hospital accommodation? No, the only expenses you'll need to cover are your hospital excess (if applicable) and an accommodation co-payment if you're in a private room and you are not covered for that. You may need to cover your hospital excess (if applicable) and your personal expenses such as TV hire (this might be negotiable with the hospital). No, but you may have to pay for personal expenses such as TV hire, telephone calls or meals for an overnight boarder (e.g. your partner or parent). 

How does admission differ for public and private patients in a public hospital?

Upon arriving at a public hospital, the staff will explain the admission process to you and ask if you’d like to be admitted as a public or private patient.

If you choose to be treated as a public patient, you will be asked to complete an admission form and provide your Medicare details. All expenses will be covered by Medicare so the admission shouldn't cost you anything.

Alternatively, you can choose to be treated as a private patient, in which case you’ll need to sign an election form that details all the associated costs.

If you do choose to be admitted as a private patient in a public hospital, it’s important to note that some out-of-pocket expenses may apply - expenses that would otherwise have been fully covered under Medicare, such as hospital excess payments (if applicable on your policy), plus any gaps that your doctor may charge for your treatment. So in some circumstances, it may be more financially advantageous to be admitted as a public patient. Just keep in mind that although you’ll lose your ability to choose your doctor and request a private room.

Essentially, your decision should be based on what’s in your best interests. Your private hospital insurance will give you more choices in terms of doctors and accommodation, but if you’re happy using the public system then you shouldn’t feel pressured to provide your Hospital Cover details.


Will my private hospital insurance cover the ambulance fees?

Our Hospital Cover options don’t include ambulance benefits but our popular range of Extras Cover options do, so we always recommend adding Extras to any Hospital policy.

On our basic Vital Options policy you’ll be covered for 50% of the ambulance fee up to an annual limit of $800pp. On all other HIF Extras options, you’ll be covered for 100% of the fee with no annual limit. That means you can claim on as many ambulance trips as you need each year (although we hope you’ll never need any!).

If you’re wondering if Extras Cover is worth having though, just remember that ambulance transport often costs over $900 per trip. In comparison, you can get HIF Extras with full ambulance coverage from a tiny $260.20 per year*, and that covers a host of other services too including dental, optical, physio and chiro.

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