It has been confirmed that the HSE will need a budget bailout of over half a billion euro this year.
The latest Exchequer returns show the health service overspent by €324 million in the first nine months and its overspend is set to increase before the New Year.
It will be the ninth time in 11 years that the agency will have overspent its budget.
But Public Expenditure minister Brendan Howlin says the issue is understandable - and every developed country has difficulty controlling its health budget: "It's changing. Health inflation is much higher than normal inflation. New services and products are coming on strin.
"Thankfully we are living longer.
"It's going to be an ongoing challenge for every developed country to adequately resource and provide a decent health care system."