More Australians going private in hospitals

A new report shows more patients with private health insurance are being admitted to public hospitals.

Around 10.6 million people were admitted to Australia’s hospitals in 2015-16, with around 59 per cent using private health insurance.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Admitted patient care 2015-16: Australian hospital statistics, showed a larger gap between growth in the number of public patients and growth in patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.

“Growth in private hospital admissions was slightly ahead of public hospital admissions, up by 3.7 per cent and 3.3 per cent on average yearly, respectively,” said AIHW’s George Bodilsen.

“In the five years to 2015-16, admissions for public patients rose by an average of 2.9 per cent each year, compared with 5.5 per cent for patients who used private health insurance to fund their admission.

“In public hospitals in 2015-16, 83 per cent of admissions, or 5.2 million, were for public patients, with around 14 per cent of patients, or 872,000, using their private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission,” he said.

The report also showed, for the first time, how elective surgery waiting times to public hospitals differed.

The median waiting time for admission to a public hospital for elective surgery was 38 days, but it varied according to the funding source as well as the type of surgery performed.

“Public patients had a median waiting time of 42 days for elective surgery in a public hospital, while it was 20 days for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission,” Mr Bodilsen said. 

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