Consultants paid €400 million by insurers

Reilly says cost of claims almost €2 billion

Dr James Reilly: “Clearly, increases of this magnitude are not sustainable.”

Dr James Reilly: “Clearly, increases of this magnitude are not sustainable.”


Hospital consultants shared about €400 million in fees for private practice work last year, new figures set out by the Minister for Health James Reilly suggest.

Dr Reilly said that data provided to the Department of Health by the regulator for the private health insurance sector, the Health Insurance Authority, showed almost €2 billion was paid in claims by private health insurers in 2012.

“Some 46 per cent was paid to private hospitals, 27 per cent to public hospitals, 20 per cent to consultants and 7 per cent mainly for outpatient benefits.”

Private hospitals
The figures given by the Minister to the Dáil last week would indicate private hospitals collectively received about €920 million in fees from the health insurance industry, while public hospitals received about €540 million.

The figures would also suggest hospital consultants with private practice rights collectively received about €400 million in fees from health insurers last year.

There are around 2,500 consultants working in public hospitals but not all are permitted to treat fee-paying patients.

The State’s largest health insurer, the VHI, said last year that it had paid out an average of €86,000 per hospital consultant for treating private patients last year.

Consultants would receive fees from other health insurers for treating their subscribers. A relatively small number of patients would also pay directly for their own treatment.

In 2010 one private practice consultant received more than €1 million from the VHI, which was criticised by Dr Reilly when the figures subsequently emerged. VHI fees to consultants have been reduced considerably since that time.

Claim increase

Speaking in the Dáil last Thursday, the Minister said “the average claim per insured person increased by 12.6 per cent per annum between 2008 and 2012, largely as a result of increased usage of hospital services, with insurers attributing premium increases to increased claims costs and ageing memberships. Clearly increases of this magnitude are not sustainable.”