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.

Public patient

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.

Private patient

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.

Compensable patient

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 patient

Ineligible patients are not covered by or eligible for Medicare. Ineligible patients may not elect to be treated as a public patient.

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Patient election - advice for patients

How you are categorised when you are admitted to a Victorian hospital or health service - as a public, private, compensable or ineligible patient - determines what fees and charges apply. The department strongly recommends that prior to admission you discuss your patient election with your specialist.

Find out more about paying for healthcare in Victorian on the Better Health Channel