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In Australia, there are both public and private hospitals. Public hospitals predominantly provide short-term care for acute cases or longer-term care for cases such as rehabilitation. Private hospitals are mainly owned by private organisations, some of which are non-profit based. In 2010-11 there were 1,340 hospitals in Australia with over half of them public hospitals.

All Australian citizens and permanent residents are entitled to free public hospital cover under the Medicare system and must first be referred by their GP. Overseas visitors from countries that have a reciprocal health agreement with Australia can also access Medicare benefits but this does not include non-urgent or on going medical treatment. Visitors from other countries must have insurance to cover any hospital related expenses or they will be liable to pay for their own treatment, which can be expensive.

Private hospitals provide 40% of all hospital treatments in Australia and in 2009-10 admitted 3.5 million patients. As a patient in a private hospital you are entitled to your choice of doctor and subject to intake, you may be lucky enough to get your own room. Medicare will cover 75% of the Medicare schedule of fees for services and procedures provided by your doctor in a private hospital but will not cover hospital accommodation costs such as theatre fees and medicines. These costs can be covered by private health insurance or by the patient.

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