'No-one will be left behind' - Health insurers yet to work out 'critical details' of supporting public hospitals during pandemic

'No-one will be left behind' - Health insurers yet to work out 'critical details' of supporting public hospitals during pandemic

Private health insurers are to meet with government next week to ascertain how supporting the public system will impact on more than a million customers.

Last week, the Government announced a framework agreement with private hospitals to bring their capacity into the public system to help deal with the expected influx of patients as a result of Covid-19.

The Government is leading a single national healthcare response managed through the Public Health System.

Health insurers such as Vhi and laya healthcare have been inundated with thousands of phone calls asking whether there would be a moratorium on payments for members and what the national directive means for other health concerns such as emergencies.

Laya healthcare has pleaded with customers to stop phoning them to inquire about what financial measures they are taking to ease costs during the protracted crisis.

Insurance Ireland’s Interim CEO Gerry Hassett, which is the umbrella representative group for private health companies, said: “Private health insurers will work with the government and the private hospitals to play a constructive role in supporting the public system during this crisis. It is understood that the health insurance consultative forum will be meeting shortly to discuss the implementation of these necessary steps.”

On Friday night, laya Managing Director Dónal Clancy issued a statement to the health insurer’s 600,000 members committing that they will introduce a financial measure to support them.

“Our team are busy at this time answering urgent calls so I’d ask you not to call us about the financial support measures we’re considering – as soon as we have details, we’ll contact you directly and update our website also.

“Rest assured, we will look after everyone. No-one will be left behind. We plan to introduce a measure of financial support for all our members on private healthcare schemes in response to the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

“Before we can commit to the exact details of any measure of financial support, we have some critical details around our claims costs we need to work out carefully.

The government’s deal with private hospitals is not yet finalised, we are still paying government stamp duty on premium and claim costs for urgent and non-urgent healthcare including maternity care, cancer and cardiac care amongst others.

“Our members are still getting sick with non-Covid-19 related illnesses and injuries and we want to be there for them to provide cover when they need us.”

Mr Clancy added: “It is understood that the health insurance consultative forum will be meeting shortly to discuss the implementation of these necessary steps.”

“We just need a little more time to consider the breadth and depth of what we can offer. There’s a lot we still don’t know. We need to manage our claims costs in a prudent manner that allows us look after our members’ healthcare costs into the future and maintain the services they’ve come to rely on us for operating as usual.

“We will update you as a matter of urgency once details become clearer. We are due to meet with the Department of Health and other government and industry stakeholders next week and will push for more clarity to allow us move quickly to announce details of a financial support package for our members.”

A spokesperson for the Vhi, which has more than one million customers, explained that the company is actively considering the matter, and it is still too early to understand the implications of the framework agreement but “once we have clarity on the matter we will be in a better position to assess the impact for our customers”.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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