Public hospital bed charges have been in the news recently – what does it all mean?
In 2014 the Government changed the way public hospitals charge health insurers. Previously your health insurer was only charged a higher rate than that charged to the general public if you were accommodated in a semi-private or private room. Now, health insurance customers can be charged over 10 times the normal rate regardless of whether they received semi-private / private accommodation or not.
What do I need to know?
If you are admitted to a public hospital through A&E, you will be asked to sign a Private Insurance Patient form. By signing this form you waive your rights to public treatment in a public hospital. Remember, unless you can be guaranteed a private or semi-private room, you have the right to say no and will get exactly the same treatment.
78% of Irish Adults Say It’s Unacceptable for Health Insurance Holders to Pay Twice for Treatment in Public Hospitals
- Customers paying twice, once through their taxes and again through insurance, amounts to “Double Taxation” – Insurance Ireland calling for policy review
- 62% Unaware that private patients can be charged over ten times the public rate for the same treatment according to research by Insurance Ireland
5th March 2017 – Over three quarters of Irish adults feel that charging those with private health insurance for treatment in a public hospital twice, once through general taxation and again through their policy, is unacceptable according to a nationwide poll conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Insurance Ireland. While up to 82% of respondents with health insurance considered this practice unacceptable, a broadly similar sentiment was expressed by those without a health insurance policy (73% consider unacceptable).
The research was conducted to gauge the level of understanding and attitudes of the public to the introduction of the Health Amendment Act 2013. Following the introduction of the Act,health insurance customers are charged a private rate for public treatment in public hospitals. To allow for this, patients are being asked to sign a Private Insurance Patient form which means they waive their right to treatment as public patients.
The research found that most people (65% of adults) were unaware that the form asks insurance holders to waive their right to public treatment. 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.
When the charge was introduced, it was stated that it would cost no more than €45 million in a full year but is estimated to now cost approximately €200 million in a full year.
Kevin Thompson, CEO of Insurance Ireland stated “It is important that patients understand what they are being asked to sign when presented with this form in A & E. This research has confirmed that there is a lack of public awareness of the practice or indeed the cost implications of health insurance customers waiving their right to public treatment.”