Sunday 24 September 2017

Public patients can 'pay as they go' for private care with new firm

Patients who need a once-off procedure and do not want to tie themselves with ongoing private health insurance payments may be attracted to the new scheme. Photo: Getty
Patients who need a once-off procedure and do not want to tie themselves with ongoing private health insurance payments may be attracted to the new scheme. Photo: Getty
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients on public waiting lists who do not have health insurance may be able to "pay as they go" for private care under a new scheme.

New company Letsbuyhealthcare is asking people who need surgery or an appointment for a diagnostic procedure or outpatient appointment to register for free.

Managing director David Allen said he hopes that if enough patients register, it will allow him to negotiate with private hospitals to get a discounted price for anything from a cataract operation to a new hip.

He is bringing his inside knowledge from his former job as head of finance and procurement at the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which negotiates these kind of packages for patients on behalf of the health service under outsourcing arrangements.

He said a cataract operation can cost €2,300 to €2,800 in a private hospital.

Only two private hospitals display their prices and a patient without insurance can find themselves having to contend with separate fees for the hospital and doctors.

"I aim to provide them with a package which will include aftercare," he said.

The patients would also be entitled to 20pc in tax relief.

The latest initiative comes as public waiting lists reached another record, with almost 690,000 people in some form of public queue.

Patients who need a once-off procedure and do not want to tie themselves with ongoing private health insurance payments may be attracted to the new scheme.

The company will add its commission on to the price of the package and this will be around 8pc.

Mr Allen said he would include hip operations - which can cost around €15,000 per surgery - in negotiations.

Private hospitals have informed him they have the capacity to take on these additional patients and have said they will carry out work on Saturdays if need be. The company is now open.

Irish Independent

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