All eligible people have the choice to be treated as either a public, private or compensable patient. The patient, or their legally authorised representative, may elect their status before, at the time of, or as soon as practicable after being admitted.
A public patient is:
- a person who is eligible for Medicare and who receives or elects to receive a public hospital service free of charge
- a person in a public psychiatric hospital who does not have the choice to be treated as a private patient
- a visitor from overseas who is covered by a reciprocal healthcare agreement, and who elects to be treated as a public patient. Visitors from countries with which Australia has a reciprocal healthcare agreement are entitled to immediate, medically necessary treatment on terms no less favourable than would apply to a resident of Australia.
A private patient is:
- treated by their nominated doctor(s) provided that the doctor(s) has the right to practise at the hospital or health service
- responsible for paying hospital accommodation fees, charges for all medical and diagnostic services, prosthesis, dental fees and other related services.
A compensable patient is entitled to claim damages under any of the following:
- motor vehicle third-party insurance (in Victoria, the Transport Accident Commission)
- worker's compensation (in Victoria, WorkSafe Victoria)
- public liability or common law.
- eligible Department of Veterans' Affairs
Ineligible patients are not covered by or eligible for Medicare. Ineligible patients may not elect to be treated as a public patient.