About hospital care in Australia

Learn about the types of hospitals we have, who can use them, and how we fund them.

What hospital care is

Hospitals are facilities that provide health treatment or care to patients. Patients can be either:

  • admitted – where they have gone through a formal admission process and the hospital has accepted responsibility for their care
  • non-admitted – those not formally admitted, for example patients in the emergency department, or outpatients.

State and territory governments must approve a hospital before it can operate as one.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care must declare a service or facility to be a hospital before it can receive private health insurer benefits.

Learn more about hospital declarations.

Who provides hospital care

Australia has both public and private hospitals. Learn more about how the system works on the healthdirect website.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments jointly fund public hospitals, but the states and territories administer them. Learn more about public hospitals.

Private sector operators own and run private hospitals. However, governments license and regulate them. Learn more about private hospitals.

Find a hospital

Use the National Health Services Directory to find a hospital by location.

Accessing hospital care in Australia

Anyone with a Medicare card can access free medical treatment as a public patient in a public hospital.

You can also choose to be a private patient in either a public hospital or private hospital but will need to pay for treatment yourself – if you have private health insurance that may cover some of your costs. You may also be eligible to receive a Medicare Benefits Schedule rebate for the private hospital service you pay for.

Find out more about what is covered for hospital treatment by private health insurance and Medicare.

If you are visiting Australia from overseas you may need to take out private health insurance. Find out more on the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman’s website.

Your rights as a hospital patient

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s (ACSQHC’s) charter of healthcare rights describes the rights that apply to consumers receiving health care in Australia. It includes:

  • public and private hospitals
  • day procedure services
  • general practice
  • other community health services.

The ACSQHC has developed indicators to use when measuring and reporting the safety and quality of hospital care.

States and territories have also established independent agencies to manage complaints about public hospitals:

Funding and managing hospital care

Public hospitals in Australia are jointly funded by the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

Australian Government funding for hospitals is activity-based. This means that it is based on how much, and what kind of, care hospitals provide.

Visit the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority website for more details about the administration of activity-based funding.

Learn more about our role in supporting activity-based funding.

Local hospital networks

State and territory governments set up local hospital networks (LHNs) – independent authorities that manage services and funding. They may have different names in different states or territories, for example:

  • local health districts (NSW)
  • hospital and health services (Qld)
  • local health networks (SA)
  • health organisations (Tas)
  • health services (NT, Vic and WA).

The National Health Funding Body has a directory of LHNs.

Australian hospital data and statistics

We collect hospital data and statistics to support their governance.

Other places you can find hospital data and statistics include the MyHospitals page on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.

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