Bed levy will lead to '30pc hike in health premiums'
The country's four main health insurers have warned that the Government's proposed new public bed charge will lead to an increase of over 30pc in premiums.
It follows the publication of the legislation that will allow the Department of Health to charge insurers if one of their members is placed in a public bed.
The Health (Amendment) Bill 2013, which will give effect to Budget 2013, also includes proposals to increase the daily charge for public in-patient services from €75 to €89.
It also proposes making nursing home residents who are part of the Fair Deal scheme increase their asset contribution from 5pc to 7.5pc.
Commenting on the proposals to impose the higher charges for insured patients who are placed in public beds, Dermot Goode, of healthinsurancesavings.ie, said he would see premiums going up in the short term.
The proposed legislation allows for the Health Minister to charge insurers over €1,000 a night for a public bed. The minister has said he would do this on a phased basis over a number of years to reduce the impact on insurers.
But the minister insisted last night that predictions of a 30pc hike in premiums amounted to "scaremongering". He expects the legislation to be in place before the summer recess and said health insurers had not made enough efforts to cut their costs.
In a submission to Government, Insurance Ireland – which represents the main insurers here – predicted that a 30pc price hike would force large numbers (in excess of 300,000 members) out of the health insurance market.
Chief executive Kevin Thompson said: "This substantial reduction in the percentage insured, down from 51pc in 2008 to an estimated 35.7pc in 2015, would have a two-fold impact.
"It would greatly increase reliance on the public health sector and it would also sharply reduce the income stream public hospitals get from privately insured patients."