Private vs Public Healthcare: What are the Major Differences?


In many countries, such as the United States, you’ll find many heated debates over which method of healthcare is ultimately better than the other. Whether you’re looking to set up a business in the medical industry, or are thinking of getting a job working for either a major healthcare provider or national service, it’s good to know what the differences are, and what it means for you on the business and employment side of things.

Profits, Profits, Profits

At the very top level, the easiest way of splitting the two types of healthcare is that one aims to make a profit, where the other does not. Private hospitals, while there to provide and care for people, are still businesses, which means they need to cover their costs and make additional money. Nationally owned hospitals and clinics however, have a particular amount of money given to them by the government, and then this is used to carry out the service – they do not aim to make any money.

So what does this mean in practice?

Generally, all things associated with private healthcare are more expensive than the public equivalent. This is mainly down to three things; public services do not have pressure to make money, and have massive buying power to negotiate better deals. There is also no insurance involved as such (though taxes associated with healthcare are sometimes referred to as an insurance). Insurance is necessary on the part of the person receiving care, but healthcare professionals also need insurance too. It does tend to increase the overall cost of delivering a service.

The Employee / Business Partner View

Higher prices also mean as a general rule, jobs in private healthcare are better paying than the public equivalent. The perceived better quality (this is open to major debate) of private also means that customers pay more for the service, allowing for higher salaries. This is why many doctors like to set up private clinics, especially for things like plastic surgery. Businesses that supply to the health industry can often make more in the private sector as there are many different contracts to win, and less power on the side of the purchaser.

On the other hand stability is good when working for or with a public service. Employees working for the UK’s National Health Service for instance often spend their entire careers with the employer. Similarly, business contracts can be maintained for a long time with some measure of security provided you keep up to expectations.


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