154,948 registered members
Health insurance set to skyrocket
[Posted: Tue 06/12/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Health insurers have warned that subscribers face major hikes in their premia next year as a result of the Government's move to increase the generation of private income in public hospitals.
It was announced inthe Budget that private bed charges in public hospitals are to be increased next year by an as yet unspecified amount. In addition, the Government is planning to abolish the existing system of designated public/private beds in public hospitals.
This gives hospitals scope for the first time to charge private patients who would formerly not have been charged as they might have been in a bed that was designated public.
It is not always possible for public hospitals to accommodate insured patients in its designated private beds, but if this happens it cannot charge them for the accommodation.
The measures are set to generate €143 million in income for public hospitals next year. The bed designation change is regarded as a precursor for reforms leading up to the universal health insurance system with equal access to hospital care for all in 2016.
At present, however, the measures will increase substantially the cost to health insurers of covering private bed charges in public hospitals and will have a knock-on effect in turn on health insurance premia.
VHI has warned that the Government's bed charge measures if implemented in full, would double what it currently has to pay to cover its customers accommodated in public hospitals.
The country's largest health insurer said at a time when an increasing number of people are struggling to maintain their health insurance payments, it believed people could not afford further major insurance increases.
It said the changes proposed could add 50% to its premia, if it were to continue to provide cover for all public hospitals.
The Government's bed charge move has led to speculation that health insurers might cut back on the number of public hospital beds it provides cover for and concentrate more on marketing private hospital cover.
In some cases private hospital beds cost less the insurers less to cover than private beds in public hospitals.
The cost of health insurance rose by 24% in the 12 months to October of this year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
VHI recently announced a 2% price rise on many of its cover plans. This was only eight months after it had announced a general 15% premium increase, with the cost of some of its plans increasing by 45% in February.
Quinn Healthcare previously increased its premia by 8% in January of this year, while Aviva hiked its charges by 14% in March and recently announced a further 12% premium hike from January. All these increases were, of course, before the Government's bed charge announcement was made.
The new private bed measures could add well over €1,000 per annum to some families' health insurance costs next year.
Health Minister James Reilly has rejected claims that insurance premia could rise by as much as 50% as a resslt of the new measures. He said health insurers need to do more to cut their cost base.
Health insurers and Minister are due to meet shortly to discuss the planned measures.
In the meantime, Dr Reilly say she has initiated a review aimed a cutting the cost of health insurance.
|Aemilian Posted: 13/12/2011 16:01|
Existing private beds in a public hospital are a joke to the patient -- in general, the patient gets the same attention in every respect as do all patients in public beds, including location. I know from considerable experience. So, every patient with private insurance who is admitted to a public hospital is asked if they hold private health insurance. The answer to this question determines whether that patient's health insurer pays for the bed. If the answer is No there can be no charge to the health insurer and the service, medical and otherwise, to the patient is the same in general in almost every instance. Why distinguish? So the hospital can charge more for the bed? and for no other reason.
|Anonymous Posted: 14/12/2011 12:03|
The distinguishing factor for the patient is that they get seen and treated in a matter of weeks rather than months or years.
Equal access healthcare in 2016 is of little use now if more and more people can no longer afford thier health insurance as a result.
My own mother's premium with VHI has in creased 48% compared to last year, another 50% hike would mean a doubling of the cost. If this happens I can see a lot of people foregoing their health insurance because they will no longer be able to afford it and this will put even more pressure on an already strugglingn public health service.
|To join the discussion, register by clicking here|