Patricia put on public list and 'could face a two-year wait'
LONG-TIME health insurance subscribers Patricia and Joe Dunne recently discovered their cover fell far short of their expectations once illness struck.
The couple, both in their 50s, from Ferbane in Co Offaly, who also pay for policies for their two sons, have each had to call on their insurance in recent years.
Patricia recently developed infections in her eye and now needs an operation on her eyelids. She was attending Prof Michael O'Keeffe as a private patient, but was told she was not covered for the procedure in the Mater private hospital under the Essential Plus plan they have with Laya Healthcare.
As a private patient, the couple automatically assumed that she would then have quick access to the surgery if it was carried out in the Mater public hospital nearby.
"I rang the insurer and was told Patricia was covered, but it turned out to be only in the Mater public," said Joe.
"However, she will have to go on the general waiting list there of 18 months to two years.
"So having insurance makes no difference in getting the surgery done quicker. It does not make sense to me to have health insurance and then you have to queue for a year."
Joe suffered from prostate cancer and while he was fully covered for his care in Tallaght Hospital, he ended up having to pay €2,000 after being sent to the Bons Secours Hospital in Galway for scans.
"I go through the policy every year but there is so much information, it is next to impossible to know what we are covered or not covered for."
A spokesman for Laya Healthcare said it communicates with its policy holders on the level of hospital cover they have in a number of ways. At their first call, they are taken through the level of cover offered and also receive a 'welcome pack'. In the product literature a member is reminded to contact the company before going into hospital to confirm the level of cover they have.