149. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if there is a levy (details supplied) on overnight hospital bed stays; if so, the reason the levy exists; the cost in this regard; the persons who are exempt from the levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19343/18 asked on 03 May 2018)
Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all persons ordinarily resident in the country are, subject to certain charges, eligible for public in-patient hospital services. As provided for by the Health (Amendment) Act 2013, the current public hospital statutory in-patient charge for public in-patient and day-case services is €80 per day, subject to a maximum of €800 in any period of twelve consecutive months.
This nominal charge represents a contribution towards the overall cost of in-patient services and applies irrespective of the type of accommodation provided during an in-patient stay. There are a number of exemptions to this charge including where a person has a medical card, where a woman is receiving services in respect of motherhood and where a child is not more than six weeks old.
The Health Insurance Act 1994, (Minimum Benefit) Regulations 1996 (as amended), provide the prescribed minimum payments for an insured person availing of in-patient services in a public hospital, in line with the amount of the charge payable for such services under the Health Act 1970 (as amended). In this context, all health insurance companies are required to cover the statutory public in-patient charge. However, it is at the discretion of individuals as to whether the charge should be paid by their health insurer on their behalf or if they wish to pay for it themselves.