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Pros and Cons of Public vs. Private Hospitals

slingshot health cartoon public and private hospital with cars

Generally speaking, there are two types of hospitals: public and private. If you’re not seeking a specific provider, your choice between private and public will likely be based on your needs, finances, and preferences. With healthcare costs being the #1 financial concern for Americans, it is important to weigh your options. To help you decide which hospital best suits your situation, we put together a list of pros and cons for each.

Public Hospitals

Public hospitals are funded by local, state, and federal funds. Because public hospitals are government funded, they must treat anyone and everyone, regardless of their finances. They serve as an important safety net for those with limited access to care (i.e. uninsured). New York City has 11 public hospitals, an example of which is Bellevue Hospital Center.


  • You cannot be turned away.
  • Typically more affordable because public hospitals are not-for-profit.


  • Wait times tend to be higher due to higher patient to doctor ratios.
  • Care isn’t as personalized because nurses are comparatively overburdened by patients.

Private Hospitals

While private hospitals are known for quality personalized care, access is often limited by higher costs and insurance. They can either be not-for-profit or for-profit institutions. New York City’s private hospitals are among the best in the country, an example of which is NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.


  • Excellent patient to doctor ratios.
  • Cutting edge technology and amenities.


  • Private hospitals can choose to turn patients away if they believe the patient isn’t able to pay for services since they are privately funded.
  • Comparatively more expensive and health outcomes are not always better. 

Weighing Your Options

For emergency care, you don’t always have the luxury of time to weigh the pros and cons for each. However, if you can weigh your options, be sure to evaluate costs against outcomes. While private hospitals generally deliver quality personalized care, health outcomes are not always better. Depending on how dire your health condition is, you can evaluate whether the costs are appreciably proportional to positive health outcomes at different hospitals. 

About Slingshot Health

Slingshot Health is a health tech startup that brings top healthcare providers and patients together. Patients bid on the cost of services and healthcare providers accept bids based on availability. Slingshot Health is unique in that it is a mutual marketplace putting both patients and providers back in control. Visit us at