Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Health
A major part of the Government’s Action Plan in Response to Covid-19 was to urgently ramp up capacity for acute care facilities. A critical element of the strategy was to put in place an arrangement with the private hospitals to use their facilities as part of the public system, to provide essential acute hospital services for the duration of the emergency. Following negotiations between the HSE, supported by my Department, and the private hospitals, an overarching agreement with the 18 private acute hospitals was agreed at the end of March. The details of the arrangement are contained in the Heads of Terms, which I laid before the Oireachtas on 16 April.
The decision to take over the use of private hospitals as part of the Covid-19 response has implications for private health insurers and their customers. Each of the private health insurers have since announced measures which are focused towards assisting health insurance customers impacted by the Covid-19 national response, which include partial refunds or reductions to the amount of premium payable during the period of the agreement.
The Health Insurance Authority, as the independent statutory regulator of the private health insurance market, advises individuals to check with their own insurance company to find out more information regarding the specific measures that are available to them. Consumers who have concerns about their individual policies can also contact consumer advisors at the Authority for further information (at email address firstname.lastname@example.org).
The arrangement with private hospitals is in place for 3 months up to the end of June, with an option to extend it. Under the Heads of Terms to the agreement a decision to extend the arrangement must be notified to the private hospitals by the end of this month. The arrangement is currently under review and, depending on the outcome, a decision will be made on whether or not to extend it.