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Probe is urged on bed fees increase

14 Nov 2014

The IHCA has called for a probe into the “substantial and ongoing increase” in daily fees charged for beds in public hospitals and simultaneous “significant cuts of between 15 and 45 per cent in procedure fees paid to consultants”.

This follows a HSE demand that private patient bed charges must be imposed even where patients are admitted on trolleys in breach of Government policy issued in August.

Private health insurers have firmly rejected the contention from the HSE that the type of accommodation hospitals provide is not relevant in determining whether to charge private patients.

“Private health insurers have never covered service provision on a trolley, chair or other facility and would strongly reject any suggestion that such accommodation services may be billed as either day case procedures or otherwise,” Insurance Ireland said.

It remains the policy of the Department of Health and the HSE to maintain a “reasonable ratio” of public to private patients, currently 80/20, in public hospitals. The policy states that “private patients cannot be placed in public designated beds, unless by reason of emergency admission in the absence of an alternative suitable private bed”.

However if, for whatever reason, a private elective patient is placed in a public bed “a charge must be raised notwithstanding that a breach of the policy has taken place,” a HSE letter has stated.

The cuts in fees to consultants contrasts sharply with clinical indemnity cost increases of between 49 per cent and 67 per cent — depending on the specialty — over five years, being incurred by consultants, the IHCA said in a submission to the recent Consultative Forum on Health Insurance, which was chaired by Pat McLoughlin.

Gary Culliton

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times