Public hospital

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A public hospital or government hospital is a hospital which is owned by a government and receives government funding. In some countries, this type of hospital provides medical care free of charge, the cost of which is covered by government reimbursement.


In Australia, public hospitals are operated and funded by each individual state's health department. The federal government also contributes funding. Services in public hospitals for all Australian citizens and permanent residents are fully subsidized by the federal government's Medicare Universal Healthcare program. Hospitals in Australia treat all Australian citizens and permanent residents regardless of their age, income, or social status.

Emergency Departments are almost exclusively found in public hospitals. Private hospitals rarely operate emergency departments, and patients treated at these private facilities are billed for care. Some costs, however (pathology, X-ray) may qualify for billing under Medicare.

Where patients hold private health insurance, after initial treatment by a public hospital's emergency department, the patient has the option of being transferred to a private hospital.


The Brazilian health system is a mix composed by public hospitals, non-profit philanthropic hospitals, and private hospitals. The majority of the low and medium-income population uses services provided by public hospitals run by either by the State or the municipality. Since the inception of 1988 Federal Constitution, health care is a universal right for everyone living in Brazil: citizens, permanent residents, and foreigners. To provide this service, the Brazilian government created a national public health insurance system called SUS (Sistema Unico de Saúde, Unified Health System) in which all publicly funded hospitals (public and philanthropic entities) receive payments based on the number of patients and procedures performed. The construction and operation of hospitals and health clinics are also a responsibility of the government.

The system provides universal coverage to all patients, including emergency care, preventive medicine, diagnostic procedures, surgeries (except cosmetic procedures) and medicine necessary to treat their condition. However, given budget constraints, these services are often unavailable in the majority of the country with the exception of major metropolitan regions, and even in those cities access to complex procedures may be delayed because of long lines. Despite this scenario, some patients were able to successfully sue the government for full SUS coverage for procedures performed in non-public facilities.[1]

Recently, new legislation has been enacted forbidding private hospitals to refuse treatment to patients with insufficient funds in case of life-threatening emergencies. The law also determines that the healthcare costs in this situation are to be paid by the SUS.


In Canada all hospitals are funded through Medicare, Canada's publicly funded universal health insurance system.[2] Hospitals in Canada treat all Canadian citizens and permanent residents regardless of their age, income, or social status.


In Norway, all public hospitals are funded from the national budget[3] and run by four Regional Health Authorities (RHA) owned by the Ministry of Health and Care Services. In addition to the public hospitals, a few privately owned health clinics are operating. The four Regional Health Authorities are: Northern Norway Regional Health Authority, Central Norway Regional Health Authority, Western Norway Regional Health Authority, and South-eastern Norway Regional Health Authority.[4][5] All citizens are eligible for treatment free of charge in the public hospital system. According to The Patients' Rights Act,[6] all citizens have the right to Free Hospital Choices.[7]

South Africa[edit]

South Africa has private and public hospitals. Public hospitals are funded by the Department of Health. The majority of the patients use public hospitals in which patients pay a nominal fee, roughly $3–5. The patients point of entry usually is through primary health care (Clinics) usually run by nurses. The next level of care would be district hospitals which have General Practitioners and basic radiographs. The next level of care would be Regional hospitals which have general practitioners, specialists and ICU's, and CT SCANS. The highest level of care is Tertiary which includes super specialists, MRI scans, and nuclear medicine scans.

Private patients either have healthcare insurance, known as medical aid, or have to pay the full amount privately if uninsured.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the UK public hospitals provide health care free at the point of use for the patient. Private health care is used by less than 8 percent of the population. The UK system is known as the National Health Service (NHS) and has been funded from general taxation since 1948.

United States[edit]

In the United States, two thirds of all urban hospitals are non-profit. The remaining third is split between for-profit and public. The urban public hospitals are often associated with medical schools.[8] The largest public hospital system in America is the NYC Health + Hospitals.

In the U.S., public hospitals receive significant funding from local, state, and/or federal governments. In addition, they may charge Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers for the care of patients. Public hospitals, especially in urban areas, have a high concentration of uncompensated care and graduate medical education as compared to all other American hospitals. Public hospitals in America are closing at a much faster rate than hospitals overall. The number of public hospitals in major suburbs declined 27% (134 to 98) from 1996 to 2002. It is thought that the increase in uninsured has drained public hospitals to near bankruptcy.[9] Non-profit rural hospitals were disproportionately represented with high numbers of patients with uncompensated care. Public and non-profit rural hospitals form a large part of the health care safety net for the uninsured and poor underinsured in the U.S.[10]

For-profit hospitals were more likely to provide profitable medical services and less likely to provide medical services that were relatively unprofitable. Government or public hospitals were more likely to offer relatively unprofitable medical services. Not-for-profit hospitals often fell in the middle between public and for-profit hospitals in the types of medical services they provided. For-profit hospitals were quicker to respond to changes in profitability of medical services than the other two types of hospitals.[11]

In 2009, at non-profit hospitals, the average CEO made $600,000 annually. The range was from $100,000 to $3 million.[12]


In India, public hospitals (called Government Hospitals) provide health care free at the point of use for any Indian citizen. These are usually individual state funded. However, hospitals funded by the central (federal) government also exist. State hospitals are run by the state (local) government and may be dispensaries, peripheral health centers, rural hospital, district hospitals or medical college hospitals (hospitals with affiliated medical college). In many states (like Tamil Nadu) the hospital bill is entirely funded by the state government with patient not having to pay anything for treatment. However, other hospitals will charge nominal amounts for admission to special rooms and for medical and surgical consumables. The fees in public hospitals for these rooms is up to 900 rupees.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Government of Canada, Health Canada. "Canada's Health Care System (Medicare) - Health Canada" (landing page). Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  3. ^ "Norwegian National Budget Web Portal". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  4. ^ "Norway's Regional Health Authorities info". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  5. ^ "South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority info". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  6. ^ "The Act of 2 July 1999 No. 63 relating to Patients’ Rights (the Patients’ Rights Act)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  7. ^ "Free Hospital Choice Norway". Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  8. ^ (Horwitz, 2005)
  9. ^ Higgins, M. (17 August 2005). "Public hospitals decline swiftly". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  10. ^ Fisherman L (July–August 1997). "What Types Of Hospitals Form The Safety Net? -- Despite public financial support, safety-net hospitals are in a worse financial position than other hospitals are." (PDF). Health Affairs. 16 (4): 215–222. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.16.4.215. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  11. ^ Horwitz J.R. (2005). "Making Profits And Providing Care: Comparing Nonprofit, For-Profit, And Government Hospitals" (Abstract). Health Affairs. 24 (3): 790–801. PMID 15886174. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.24.3.790. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  12. ^ Tanner, Lindsey (16 October 2013). "Nonprofit hospital CEO average pay: $600K". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 7B. Retrieved 16 October 2013.