How are Private Industry and Public Health Related?
By Sam MacArthur

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When comparing private sector vs public sector health careers, prospective students need to know what opportunities are available in the field. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the easiest way to compare the two types of sectors is to look at funding. Public health care is typically funded through the government and managed by national healthcare organizations. Private health care organizations are created for profit and can be funded through self-employed practitioners and non-government organizations. As an example, religious organizations can own and operate a private health care facility.

What is the Difference Between Public vs Private Sector Health Care?

When comparing careers, the types of jobs and salary packages are likely to differ at public and private sector health facilities. Public health care organizations receive their funding exclusively from government agencies. Taxpayers will put money toward salaries, equipment, facility operations, medical procedures, and prescriptions. Most notably, public health organizations will normally offer a limited number of services due to funding restrictions.

In the private sector, an owner or board members will be responsible for setting a budget to manage the organization. The business owner will draw up contracts with employees to set salaries. Based on profits, the private sector may have the potential to offer more services to patients. The private sector health care facility could also make higher investments in new equipment pieces and workspaces.

What is the Role of the Private Sector in Public Health?

Surprisingly, the role of private sector in public health is more significant than many people realize. According to the non-profit Trust for America’s Health, the private sector is expected to step up and help alongside public health care organizations when needed. Public organizations must work tirelessly to protect national health of its citizens. When public health care facilities can’t meet the needs of patients, the private sector will develop a plan to work alongside publicly funded organizations. As an example, if an area experiences an outbreak, public and private sector hospitals will combine forces to stock up on emergency supplies like vaccination doses.

The private sector is often included as part of the public health’s supply chain. Government funded medical organizations can face more red tape than private health care groups. Due to this, many gaps left by public health organizations can be filled by private health care groups.  

How Do Public-Private Partnerships Work?

A public-private partnership in health sector actions may occur in some incidences. When this occurs, it is referred to as a PPP or public-private partnership. A PPP is a partnership between the government and the private health care sector. The goal of these partnerships is to establish a reliable infrastructure to provide health care services. The partnerships can be long-term with a mutual benefit to all parties involved.

Examples of a public private partnership in health sector includes the sale of a publicly owned facility. The sale to a private organization may include a major or minor take in the hospital or surgery center. Another type of arrangement is that the public sector purchases services for a set period of time that would be directly provided through the privately owned business. Another potential for a PPP is allowing the sale of government assets to private clients. This type of PPP is beneficial because it helps bring funding back into public health care organizations.  

What Kinds of Jobs are in the Private Sector in Public Health Organizations?

Public vs private sector health care jobs will be a top consideration when searching for employment after degree conferment. The following are the advantages and disadvantages for working in the public and private sectors of health care.

One of the major advantages of public sector jobs is that the positions provide job security. Since the health care group is funded by taxpayers, there is a reduced risk of losing funding and needing to close. Another advantage is that employees are involved in protecting public health. In times of health crises, public health workers are considered essential. They are provided with increased job security and may be eligible to collect benefits like hazard pay. Students may have a major or minor in public health policy and choose to get involved with shaping large-scale regulations. Disadvantages of working in public health is that the system may undergo strain at times. Resources may be stretched due to budgetary limitations. Job progression may be slower too since salaries and career steps are often preset in public health care settings.

Private health care careers can pose the potential for higher salary packages. The health care worker may have access to better equipment and facilities. Caseloads may be well managed without the risk of overloading private sector employees. However, a drawback could be your income level may fluctuate depending on how well the organization is doing financially. Also, the potential for job loss is higher since the sector relies on profits to operate.

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