Health Insurance & Public Hospital Access

The public bed charge - what you need to know about the introduction of the Health Amendment Act 2013.

Following the introduction of the Health Amendment Act 2013, health insurance customers are charged a private rate for public treatment in public hospitals when admitted through Accident and Emergency. 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.

1. What is it?

Patients who are admitted to a public hospital through A&E with Private Health Insurance are being asked to sign a Private Insurance Patient Form (image below) which asks them to waive their right to public treatment in a public hospital. 

2. What should I do if/when I am presented with the form? 

Patients are being presented with a choice and health insurance holders should ask what additional services they are getting by using their health insurance above the public treatment they are already entitled to.

If you have health insurance and you do not sign the form, you will not have to pay the bill for your public treatment. Your health insurer will cover the public charge for your stay in the public hospital. 

If you are satisfied that you are getting additional services as a result of private treatment (e.g. a semi- private room) before signing the form.

3. How does it affect me?

Premiums are a function of claims costs. If you choose private treatment your health insurer will be charged €813 per day. If you choose public treatment your health insurer will be charged €80 per day.

Since the introduction of this charge, it has increased the total cost of claims by approximately €200 million. The impact is far more than the original estimate by the Government of €45 million.

 4. Do I have to sign the form?

You should ask - Can I be guaranteed a private or semi-private room or that you are getting an additional service? Remember if you do not have a guarantee, you have the right to say no.

 5. Does not signing the form impact on the treatment I will receive?

We advise that you satisfy yourself that you are getting additional services as a result of going private (e.g. a private room). In many cases, there is no difference in care provided the amount charged to your insurers is over ten times the public rate. 

 6. What should I do if I have further questions on this?

You should contact your insurer for further details, or if you have any other queries they can take you through this information. 

IrishLife health:  1890 714 444 or 021 - 480 2040 or

Laya Healthcare: 021 – 202 2000 or

VHI Healthcare: 1890 44 44 44 or 056 - 444 4444 or 

 7. What are insurance companies doing about this issue?

As an industry we think it’s important our customers are informed about what is being asked of them. To understand how the public feel about this issue, Insurance Ireland undertook polling which found that 78% of Irish adults say it is unacceptable for health insurance holders to pay twice for treatment in public hospitals, once through their tax and once through their insurance.

Insurance companies have called on the Government to review this policy as the original estimation of €45 million has increased to approximately €200 million of additional claims costs in the system. The Minister for Health has agreed to undertake this review. 

Disclaimer Information

Please note that the consumer information on this website represents a general guide to insurance. Insurance policies vary in their terms and conditions and so too can practices from insurer to insurer. Therefore, you should always read the insurance company’s policy or prospectus.

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