Tuesday 22 August 2017

Are you paying twice for the same hospital treatment?

What private health insurance holders should know.

When it comes to medical decisions for ourselves or our families, we all ask the same question: how do I access the best treatment as quickly as possible? People who purchase private health insurance get the peace of mind of knowing they will be looked after if they are sick.

For those being admitted to a public hospital through an Accident and Emergency Department, those with private health insurance now face a complication. If you have private health insurance, you can choose to be treated privately or publicly in a public hospital but to be treated privately, you must sign a form to waive your right to public treatment.

Unfortunately, private health insurance patients are being asked to sign a form to waive their rights to public treatment, and opt to use their private health insurance, for what is often the same treatment at ten times the price.

This is a result of the Private Insurance Patient Form and if you have private health insurance, these are some points you should be aware of: 

What is the form and why is it relevant to me?

If you have private health insurance, you can choose to be treated privately or publicly in a public hospital – it’s your choice but you may be paying over the odds for the same treatment, first through your tax and then through your health insurance.

The cost of treatment may be the furthest thing from a person’s mind but it is important to remember that you are entitled to treatment in a public hospital as a public patient and there is a big difference in costs if you sign this form.

How does it affect me?

Health insurance premiums are a function of claims costs. If you choose private treatment your health insurer will be charged between €813 and €1,000 per day. If you choose public treatment, your health insurer will be charged €80 per day.

Since the introduction of this charge, total claims costs have increased by approximately €200 million in a full year. The impact is far more than the original government estimate of €45 million. This additional cost is paid for by health insurance customers in their premiums.

Should I sign the form? If I don’t, what impact is there on the treatment I will receive?

In many cases, there is no difference in the care provided. If you are presented with the form, you should ask -  what additional benefits do I receive?

Remember you do not have to sign the form, you can say no.

What should I do if I have further questions on this?

If you have any further questions, you should contact your private health insurance company.

-IrishLife Health: 1890 714 444 or 021 - 480 2040 or heretohelp@irishlife.ie

-Laya Healthcare: 021 – 202 2000 or info@layahealthcare.ie

-Vhi Healthcare: 1890 44 44 44 / 056- 444 4444 or info@vhi.ie

What are private health insurance companies doing about this issue?

To understand how the public feel about this issue, Insurance Ireland undertook polling which found that 78% of Irish adults say it is unacceptable for health insurance holders to pay twice for treatment in public hospitals, once through their tax and once through their insurance. Of those admitted to a public hospital in the past 24 months who had been asked to sign the form, just 30% of those surveyed were aware of its purpose.  Almost two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed were unaware that by signing the form health insurers could be charged over ten times more than the public rate, for a public service that policy holders are already entitled to.

Private health insurance companies have called on the government to review this policy and the Minister for Health has agreed to undertake a review.

Insurance Ireland is the representative body for the Irish insurance industry

For more information, click here.

Sponsored by: Insurance Ireland

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