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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 11 August, 2020

'We have no other alternative': Mater Private Hospital defends charging €275 for Covid tests

The Mater Private said the insurers should pick up the bill for the tests.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE MATER PRIVATE Hospital has defended charging patients up to €275 for Covid tests and claimed that it had no other choice. 

A number of people yesterday contacted Joe Duffy on Liveline and described how they were being charged the fee with little chance of being able to recoup it from their insurance provider. 

New Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he was taking a “very dim view on private hospitals profiting to any extent from Covid testing”.

Health insurers have not yet clarified whether they will cover the cost for patients, and the Private Hospitals Association have said they are carrying out testing in line with public health guidelines.

In a statement today, the Mater Private Healthcare Group said it “recently introduced a series of additional quality, safety and risk management measures to protect patients and staff as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The hospital said the pandemic resulted in them reconfiguring their hospital so as to minimise contact with other patients. It also said it had introduced “a robust” screening service which they said came at a “considerable cost”. 

The Mater Private said the insurers should pick up the bill for the tests. 

“The health insurers have experienced a significant drop year to date in the number of claims for private hospital services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including zero claims during the three months the private hospitals were used by the State during the Covid-19 pandemic at no profit to the private hospitals,” the statement added.

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From last Wednesday 1 July, the contract agreed between the State and private hospitals across the country ended. That contract for the use of beds and facilities at private hospitals was made at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. However, much of the capacity went unused as the health service was faced with the first wave of cases of coronavirus. 

In the absence of an agreement on reimbursement costs from insurers the hospital said it has “no alternative” other than to charge their members when they present for treatment.

However, it added that it was not profiting from the fees charged and that no patient will be charged more than once for procedures during what the hospital described as a cycle of care”.

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