Wednesday 23 August 2017

Simon Harris orders review of hospital double charging

Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised to review the double charging of people with health insurance when they use public hospitals.

Patients with health insurance have reacted with fury to new details about how they are being pressurised into signing forms that mean their insurer is charged for treatments in public hospitals.

A survey found most people with health cover are presented with the forms when they use public hospitals, even though they are only getting public patient treatment. The move by public hospitals to charge insurers for people who use public hospitals is pushing up the cost of premiums.

Mr Harris agreed that it was not fair that vulnerable people were having forms thrust at them in hospitals, and asked to waive their rights to be treated as public patients.

"I think it has actually gone too far," he said on the 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' programme on RTÉ Radio.

"I have asked the Department of Health to review the policy, hospital by hospital, to see the impact of it, to see the resources it is bringing in, and to see the increase there has been, if there has been an increase."

The department said recently the measure was costing health insurers around €200m a year.

Read more: Revealed: Public hospital patients with insurance face double charge for same care

This is being passed on to those with health cover in the form of higher premiums, even though they are not getting private treatment in public hospitals.

Mr Harris said people could use their health insurance and elect to be treated as private patients in public hospitals.

But he agreed that it was not acceptable that people were being pressurised at a vulnerable time to sign forms that allow hospitals to bill health insurers for public-provided treatments.

He said the charge to insurers should only be applied when private care is provided.

Irish Independent

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