The financing arrangements for health care in Australia are complex, reflecting both historical developments unique to Australia and its federal system of government.
Australia's health system is a mix of public and private health care. Broadly, publicly-financed health care primarily refers to services funded through government programs such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, as well as public hospital services that are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the states and territories. In addition, some health services are funded through private health insurance, individual out-of-pocket payments, and third party insurers such as motor vehicle insurers.
It is not mandatory to have private health insurance cover. Under Medicare, all Australians are eligible for subsidised medical treatment and free treatment as a public patient in a public hospital. However, private health insurance provides a choice of doctor, can help with the cost of treatment in a private hospital, and the cost of ancillary treatments not covered by Medicare such as dental, optical and physiotherapy.
This quick guide outlines the broad arrangements around private health insurance that exist today. It provides brief information on the industry and regulatory arrangements, private health insurance membership and types of cover, government surcharges and incentives, and key features of private health insurance in Australia.