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Find out now if your insurance covers A&E

IT'S bad enough having to high-tail it to A&E and wait on a chair for eight hours without being presented with a bill for the privilege afterwards. So news that millions are going unpaid to the HSE is bad news for the already beleaguered Health Minister.

While some patients skip off without paying the €100 charge, others may assume their insurance policy covers it.

The truth is it won't in a public hospital and although the last thing you want to do with a broken arm is check, sometimes you need to. Better still, do it now before you need them.

Dermot Goode of Healthinsurancesavings.ie says, "Insurance policies don't cover the A&E charge. It's treated the same as a GP visit -- ie. you can make an end of year claim, but it will be subject to an annual excess along with your other outpatient visits."

The €100 fee is not payable by medical card holders, babies under six weeks or those receiving treatment for maternity services. You also won't be charged if you are re-admitted for the same illness (although it's up to you to chase this).

If you are referred by your GP you can also avoid the charge, although, you'll pay the doctor instead.

So, unless it's an emergency, consider if it can wait until you see your own doctor -- his or her fees will probably be around €50.