Reilly warns private health insurers to cut costs

Independent hospitals say Government’s latest proposals will mean closures and reduced services

Minister for Health 
James Reilly yesterday warned health insurers to reduce costs

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly yesterday warned health insurers to reduce costs


Minister for Health James Reilly yesterday warned health insurers to reduce costs, as independently funded hospitals claimed Government plans to charge private patients for public beds would result in closures and a reduction in services.

Dr Reilly again accused the four health insurers of “scaremongering” in claiming the move would mean premiums rising by over 30 per cent by the end of the year.

“I am saying to the insurers, ‘don’t keep coming to me cap-in-hand and don’t keep passing on your costs to the customer’,” he said.

Dr Reilly, in an interview on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, said the proposed national price information office would cost medical procedures in a realistic fashion so as to give value for money in the public and private sectors.

On Friday, he published the Health (Amendment) Act, applying charges to all private inpatient services in public hospitals. Private patients occupying public beds will be charged up to €1,122 a night in place of the existing charge of €75.

Yesterday, the Independent Hospitals Association of Ireland (IHAI) said it was seriously concerned about the proposals and referred to the insurers’ estimate of a 30 per cent rise in premiums and a further 300,000 people leaving the health insurance market.

“In this environment, independent hospitals will face closure and, as a result, there will be a serious reduction in the healthcare services available to the people of Ireland,” it added.

The association, which represents 21 independent hospitals, said the consequences for patients would be reduced capacity and choice and a growing reliance on an already overburdened public system.

Dr Reilly said insurers had not done enough in addressing their costs. The same payments were being made for procedures which used to take two hours and now took 20 minutes. “There is no proper and robust auditing,” he said.