Revealed: Health insurance set to surge after secret hike in cost of overnight hospital stays
The cost of an overnight stay in hospital has been quietly increased, in a move that was not announced by Health Minister Simon Harris.
There are fears that the added cost will be a further disincentive for sick people who face going into overcrowded public hospitals. And the higher cost is likely to push up private health insurance premiums.
The cost has gone from €75 a night to €80, with a maximum cost now of €800 a year. This is a rise of close to 7pc.
It has emerged that this hike was introduced at the start of January, while the trolley crisis was at its height.
Stephen McMahon, of the Irish Patients' Association, said he was unaware of the rise. "That is news to me. It's a further tax on a system that is already over-stretched," he said.
The Department of Health defended the rise, saying it was needed in order to fund hospital services. But it comes at a time of record waiting lists.
Health insurance experts predicted that it would have a knock-on effect on premiums.
Mr Harris has already approved a 10pc rise in the levy applied on all health policies from April. "Consumers will need to brace themselves for further cost increases," said health insurance expert Dermot Goode.