UK repaid State €1.5bn as part of bilateral healthcare deal


THE GOVERNMENT has received nearly €1.5 billion from the authorities in the UK since 2007 under a bilateral deal for reimbursing healthcare costs incurred for treating people covered by the health system in each other’s countries.

The money is paid under an agreement dating back to 1973 which allows health authorities here to receive payment for the cost of providing treatment to people covered by the UK health system but who are staying or residing in Ireland. These are mainly pensioners, temporary visitors or dependent families of workers.

Details of the payments are set out in a new internal audit report carried out by the Department of Health. The report says the amount due is the net difference between the cost to the Irish health services of providing care to those with UK entitlements and the cost to the UK health service of providing services to those with Irish entitlements.

It says allowance is also made for those with dual entitlement in both jurisdictions. Under the deal the net liability is calculated on a lump sum rather than an individual basis.

“The payment made in any one year is based upon an estimate of the number of persons falling within categories eligible for reimbursement and for whom each country is liable and an estimate of the average cost of providing healthcare treatment. Total payment in any one year can relate to both final settlements in respect of previous year’s liabilities and advance payments in respect of the current year.

“To date, when each country’s liabilities are netted off, the UK has been the debtor country each year. The net payments received from the UK over the last five years were: 2007 – €450 million; 2008 – €100 million; 2009 – €236 million; 2010 – €270 million; 2011 – €270 million.”

The Irish Times reported last month that the UK authorities had provided €130 million under the agreement to the Health Service Executive in July.

The Department of Health’s internal audit said that by far the largest part of the payment received from the UK authorities on an annual basis related to the provision of healthcare to UK pensioners and their dependants living in Ireland.

It said there were about 109,000 UK pensioners residing in Ireland and some 33,000 Irish pensioners living in the UK.