Hospital charges to VHI defended


PRIVATE hospitals yesterday, defended prices charged to the VHI for various procedures. A VHI survey, published by The Irish Times, showed differences of thousands of pounds in prices charged by the private hospitals for services.

The Independent Hospitals Association of Ireland claimed the current system was imposed by the VHI in the first place and it had been willing to negotiate.

The chief executive of the association, Mr Michael Heavey, confirmed that the VHI had issued some private hospitals with a sample schedule of proposed charges to be introduced but they had "little bearing with reality".

The 19 hospitals in his association were willing to "sit down and discuss with the VHI a sensible payment system which reflects the economic cost of delivering the services currently provided by our members", he said.

"For years, the hospitals have been saying that the payment system bears no relation to the cost of delivery of the service. We want a system which does reflect cost."

Mr Heavey described the VHI survey showing the wide" variety of charges, even within individual hospitals, as an "over-simplification".

"A procedure might normally take two hours but if there are complications, it could take five and, therefore, cost more.