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

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

Private hospitals provide over 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 a doctor and subject to intake, you may be fortunate enough to get your own room. Medicare will cover 75% of the Medicare schedule of fees for services and procedures provided by the doctor in a private hospital but will not cover hospital accommodation or costs such as theatre fees and medicines. These, however, can be covered by private health insurance or by the patient.

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