More than €20 million is owed to four hospitals in the HSE west area by private health insurance companies, a meeting of the regional forum was told this week.
Some €2.6 million of that is owed to Mayo General Hospital, with one consultant awaiting a payment of nearly €150,000. Some €580,433 of the Mayo General bill is outstanding for more than three months the meeting heard.
The bulk of the debt is owed to University Hospital Galway with an outstanding bill of €13.6 million due. Sligo Regional Hospital is awaiting €2.7 million, while Letterkenny General Hospital is owed €1.6 million.
The issue was raised by the chairman of the regional forum Cllr Padraig Conneely. A written HSE reply said claims are generally pending around queries in relation to pre-existing conditions which require GP contacts, length of stay, and whether legal claims are pending in injury cases. The reply said the Claimsure system will ensure more efficient processing in the future.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr John Hennessy, HSE regional director, said new legislation was pending which would make billing easier. He said the real answer would be to separate the hospital billing process from the consultant billing process, and allow hospitals to bill private health insurers on the day the patient is discharged.
He added that the real concern was with claims pending over three months.