Written answers

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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48. To ask the Minister for Health if he will liaise with hospitals to ensure they do not use debt collection agencies to recover emergency department and hospital charges. [40976/19]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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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

- Long-term stay charges

Cohorts of people are exempt from these charges. These include, but are 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

- 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.


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