Two ambulance women pushing a stretcher into an ambulanceHealth and medical services are available throughout the Northern Territory through public and private general practices, clinics and hospitals. Royal Darwin Hospital, the Northern Territory’s main medical hospital facility houses the National Critical Care, Trauma Response Centre and the modern Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre. While Darwin Private Hospital is for patients with appropriate private health insurance.

All major regional towns have hospitals offering general inpatient, outpatient and emergency services. Royal Darwin and Alice Springs hospitals offer a wide range of specialist services and both are teaching hospitals aligned with Flinders University in Adelaide through the NT Clinical School. Many remote health centres have direct contact with specialists in Darwin and around the world via satellite / internet access.

Private dentists, general medical practitioners, specialists and allied healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, optometrists and pharmacists practice in the major towns and also visit remote communities regularly.

There are two health care systems that operate in Australia; national public health through Medicare Australia for all of the residential population to access and the medical insurance system through paid private health insurance.

National health service

The Department of Human Services (Human Services) administers Medicare on behalf of the Department of Health, who is responsible for developing the Medicare policy.

Medicare usually covers:

  • Free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists and in specific circumstances, dentists and other allied health practitioners free treatment and accommodation as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital.
  • Seventy-five per cent of the Medicare schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (does not include hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines).
  • Some health care services in certain countries.

Private health insurance

Private health cover is self-funded by Australian residents who choose to take out cover, enabling the resident to have access to certain facilities such as hospitals, surgeons of choice, dental, optical and other specialist services at subsidised rates, partially covered by the private health cover provider.

There are two types of private health insurance - hospital policies cover you when you go to hospital, while general treatment policies (sometimes known as ancillary or extras) cover for ancillary treatment (for example, dental, physiotherapy). Most health funds offer combined policies that provide a packaged cover for both hospital and general treatment services, or you can buy separate hospital and general treatment policies to 'mix and match'. There are a number of private health cover insurance companies in Australia such as Medibank and Bupa. But more information can be sourced through the private health insurance Ombudsman.

For more information, go to the Northern Territory Department of Health website or the Medicare website. The government Private Health Insurance Ombudsman website also provides further information.