The choice to have public or private care is yours

Public or private

In the public hospital system, if you are entitled to Medicare, the cost of medical visits, treatments and other related services for your cancer such as seeing a dietitian or social worker is covered by the Australian government.

In the private health system your private health insurance will pay part, or all of your costs, depending on the levels of health cover that you have and the treatment you need. Services such as specialist testing or counselling may be partially covered, however there is usually a cost to you. It is best to speak directly to your health care fund about the details of your health insurance.

You can be treated as a private patient in a public hospital. Some people have a mix of private and public care for their cancer treatment – an example is to choose a private surgeon or oncologist and undertake chemotherapy treatment as a public patient.

The public system’s excellent, it’s given me really good treatment through the whole process. I have limited private medical insurance which enables me to see a doctor or surgeon of my choice in a public hospital. So I’ve been lucky that all my surgeons have practiced in public hospitals and I’ve been able to use the public system that way.

Graham, 56yrs living with pancreatic cancer.

There may be a cost for some newer treatments and pharmacy items in the public hospital system.

A recent study in Australia found that people with cancer who are treated in the private health system using their private health insurance have more (appoximately  double) the out of pocket expenses that people who are treated for their cancer in the public system have. Out of pocket expenses include costs for travel, accommodation, medications, tests and procedures related to your cancer.

The choice of public or private care is yours. Speak with your treating team and remember to ask every question that you want answered

This website explains public and private hospital systems in Australia.

I think it is important to look into the cost of public and private care. I wish I had understood this better at the start of my treatment for pancreatic cancer

Brian, 82yrs with pancreatic cancer