Thursday, 27 June 2019

Questions (122, 123)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

122. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of hospitals using debt collection agencies to recover emergency department charges; the number of persons who had their emergency department bills transferred to a debt collection agency for collection; the value of these bills; and his views on whether this is an acceptable mechanism of cost recovery [27231/19]

View answer

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

123. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of hospitals using debt collection agencies to recover inpatient charges; the number of persons who had their inpatient bills transferred to a debt collection agency for collection; the value of the bills; and his views on whether this is an acceptable mechanism of cost recovery [27232/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 123 together.

Patient charges are a key element of the overall funding envelope of the Irish health system and are taken into account when agreeing the Annual Estimates and the subsequent preparation of the annual National Service Plan.

These charges typically include:

- Out-patient charges;

- Emergency Department charges;

- Daily in-patient charges; and

- Long-term stay charges.

There are cohorts of people who are exempt from these charges, including, but not limited to persons with full eligibility, women receiving services in respect of motherhood, children up to the age of six weeks, children suffering from diseases prescribed under section 52 (2) of the Act, and persons receiving services for the diagnosis or treatment of infectious diseases.

In addition, patients who opt for private in-patient services in public hospitals are liable for a range of private accommodation charges. There are no exemptions from these charges.

Non collection of debts owed directly impacts on the affordability of services provided by the Health Service Executive in any year. It is therefore incumbent on the HSE to take all reasonable steps to pursue amounts owed for services delivered. Debt collection agencies are engaged when normal billing arrangements have been unsuccessful

The operational detail of this question is a matter for the HSE and I have asked them to respond to you directly in relation to that detail.