Beacon Hospital says Laya Healthcare members covered for €250 Covid test
Patients criticise some private hospitals for charging for Covid test
Different private hospitals have levied different charges for Covid-19 tests, and some have not put in place any at all. Photograph: Getty Images
The private Beacon Hospital in Dublin has said that Laya Healthcare subscribers will be covered for a controversial €250 Covid-19 test required for some patients being treated in its facilities. The hospital said that talks were under way with other insurers.
A number of private hospitals have been criticised by patients for putting in place charges for such Covid-19 tests after they resumed regular operations last week following three months under effective State control.
RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline programme on Monday featured a number of patients who described their experience of being asked to pay up to €275 in some private hospitals for Covid-19 tests which are not yet covered by many health insurers.
Different private hospitals have levied different charges for Covid-19 tests, and some have not put in place any at all.
The country’s largest health insurer, VHI, said on Monday it was engaging with the various private hospitals on this issue.
“We know that some private hospitals are writing to patients with respect to additional hospital charges that may arise. These charges vary considerably, and some include a requirement to take a Covid-19 test before a patient undergoes procedures in hospitals. There may also be other charges.
“Currently these charges are not covered under our policies. So we need to understand the costs, the impact it will have on our customers, and will work with the hospitals to come to a fair agreement that will protect the safety of our customers, the front-line workers and their families.”
Laya Healthcare, which has about 600,000 members, said it was currently in discussion with hospitals “to understand all costs related to pre-admission Covid-19 testing for elective procedures with a view to understanding how best we can cover this cost as part of our members’ policy and benefits”.
“ We are currently in discussion with our hospital partners, and hope to come to an agreement directly with them shortly.”
A spokesman for Irish Life Health said:“We are in discussion with a number of private hospitals to ensure that any payment made will deliver value for money for our customers.”
Beacon said that Laya members were covered for the Covid test costs in the hospital in south Dublin.
Beacon Hospital said: “While much progress has been made in the containment of the Covid-19 virus, the risk of contagion within the community remains a real and valid threat. The priority at all times for Beacon Hospital is the health and safety of our patients and staff. In line with national guidelines from the HSE, some but not all patients have to be tested for Covid-19 prior to admission to the hospital.”
“The patients that require a Covid test include those attending for surgery under general anaesthetic; those that are identified in the higher risk categories (eg. patients with weak immune system); those patients that are Covid symptomatic; any patient needing admission to the hospital for an overnight stay.”
The Blackrock Clinic in Dublin said it was not currently charging patients for a Covid-19 test if it was required prior to attending the hospital. However, it said it was “currently in discussions with health insurers, and is hopeful an agreement will be reached with them shortly in relation to this matter”.
Callers to Liveline said the bill for a Covid test at the Mater Private Hospital was €275. The hospital did not comment on the issue on Monday.