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The Australian healthcare system at a glance

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Australia’s Healthcare System is one of the most comprehensive in the world; offering a range of services from general and preventative health, through to treating more complex conditions, that may need a specialist, or hospital care.

The system has two major parts: the public health system, and the private health system. When you need health care, you could access it through one of two systems, or a mix of both.

Let’s explore what they look like:

The public system is made up of number of components, including public hospitals, community-based services, and affiliated health organisations largely owned and governed by state and territory governments. The Australian public accesses care within the public health system for free or at a lower cost through Medicare (funded by tax).

The private system includes health service providers that are owned and managed privately, such as private hospitals, specialist medical and allied health, and pharmacies.

The services you access through the public system are funded by local, state and federal governments, but the services you access through the private system are funded by a combination of government and private entities, including:

Private health insurance premiums – paid by customers 
Private health organisations 
People paying directly for private treatment 
Government incentives on private health insurance 
Other government and private funding

In the lead up to, and during a hospital visit, health professionals, including doctors and specialists, can provide treatment through either the public or the private system.

There are a few areas of the healthcare system you’re likely to encounter as you move through life, especially if you need to go to hospital in Australia.


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