Insurer claims Reilly's €828 daily charge is pushing up costs
HEALTH Minister James Reilly is helping to push up health insurance costs by insisting that public hospitals charge a set daily rate of €828 for private patient procedures, regardless of whether they take 10 minutes or 10 hours to complete.
Because of his policy, the daily fee set for a public hospital can be nearly three times higher than the equivalent health insurers can negotiate for the same procedure in a private hospital.
The claims were made last night by insurance firm GloHealth.
Dr Reilly has previously berated health insurers for not reducing their own costs and not fully cutting fees for procedures which in the past took two hours but can now be completed in 20 minutes.
He has cited the example of cataract operations which used to be time-consuming but can now be carried out on a day-case basis.
A spokeswoman for GloHealth pointed out that while there is scope for insurers to negotiate lower charges in private hospitals they are forced into a set daily rate of €828 in public hospitals regardless of how short or simple or "long or complex" the procedure is.
She said the daily rate of €828 is levied regardless of the length of time taken to carry out the procedure.
It means a breast biopsy in a private hospital costs €280 but it is as high as €828 in a public hospital.
It comes in the wake of a warning by health insurers that they may have to increase premiums by 30pc if the minister goes ahead with plans to start charging them over €1,000 if an insured patient is put in a public hospital bed.