Ireland’s beleaguered health service is owed a staggering $400million – by patients.
The Irish Examiner reports on Monday that the financially crippled HSE is owed that much in outstanding hospital patient charges.
The Health Service has stepped up debt collection in the past year but the total figure owed is now over twice the outstanding $165million in 2005.
The bulk of the money owed, some $310million, relates to outstanding private patient and road traffic accident charges.
A total of $40million is owed in statutory inpatient fees, $18million in unpaid emergency department charges and almost $6million in miscellaneous hospital patient fees.
Of the total figure, $245 million has been owed to the HSE for less than 12 months, with $75million outstanding for between 12 and 36 months and$54million owed for more than three years.
The HSE said “We are working on targeted initiatives to achieve sustained improvement in patient fee collection times.
“We are particularly keen to improve the collection of hospital charges for private patients from health insurers and is trying to agree new national protocols with the companies for this.”
The Examiner reports that the HSE has: ‘sought to agree a process with them that would provide for the payment of costs to hospitals within 30 days but it has admitted that none of the three main health insurers has responded positively to this proposal and that it continues to have to wait for up to six months for settlement of these fees’.
“In light of the economic climate facing the health services, we must move to timely payment of costs due to public hospitals with a view to protecting public services,” said a spokesman for the HSE.