Bedside robbery: private patients charged more for having insurance

1 June 2009

Got private health insurance, you lucky bugger? Well, you better keep your mouth shut and your fingers on the bill, for your private hospital chain may be inflating your invoice by up to 50%.

According to ThisIsMoney, a private hospital chain has been adding an excess few hundred pounds routinely to patient's bills. One case includes a Chichester based Nuffield Group Hospital that charged an extra £250 for a scan. Just because they can.

Private hospitals are allowed to offer different prices to the 7m Britons insured under PMI (private medical insurance). This is due to a drop in demand from "pay as you go" patients. While an increase in NHS cases offsets some of those hospital losses, the cheeky buggers are sending higher bills to private insurers to compensate for a fall in pay as you go patients.

According to BUPA, health insurance premiums have increased far more rapidly than the rate of inflation, and these higher charges by private hospitals contribute to both insurers and customers paying more. David Mobbs, chairman of Nuffield Health, told a parliamentary committee last year that "insurers set our prices."

But insurers beg to differ.

According to Julian Stainton, the CEO of the Western Provident Association, a leading health insurer, all patients treated at private hospitals are considered "self-pay" by law, and patients are not obligated to tell private hospitals whether they are insured, just that they have the financial resources to pay. This could simply mean showing them a valid credit card (or flashing that grade A Rolex replica).

Alliance Surgical, an organization of NHS consultants, wrote in 2006 that similar problems were already occuring with private hospitals: "The NHS tariff for a cataract operation is between £702 and £1,015. But in some cases BUPA was being asked to pay £3,500 for an operation in the private sector." Talk about an eye for an eye.

Do you have private health insurance? Is it worth the money? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments below.

[ThisIsMoney]

TOPICS:   Health

7 comments

  • MrRobin
    WPA operates a 'shared responsibility' method whereby the claimant foots 25% of the bill themselves (up to a certain maximum) and the insurer the remaining 75%. This should have the effect of making the claimants more aware of costs and encourage them to shop around or get the best 'deal' possible.
  • andy y.
    Why should an insured patienttgive a stuff if the hospital is overcharging the insurer? Taht's up to teh insurer to keep a lid on costs.The problem with private hospitals has always been that there charging is excessive. Mybe if they charged more reasonably for care more people would use the private sector and relieve demands on the nhs
  • andy y.
    Oh for fuck's sake i really need to check my copy before I post
  • Stumpy
    It has cost me an arm and a leg!
  • JC
    "relieve demands on the nhs" That's bollocks. The doctors that treat you in private hospitals are usually NHS doctors as well, if the private sector didn't exist then the doctors would have more time to work within ghte NHS.
  • OleSkinFlint
    Stuff all private healthcare and bloody robbing bastard insurance companies. With any luck they'll end if screwing each others businesses, unfortunately the insurers will come out on top. Hmm wonder if I can take out insurance on that ? Making money from healthcare; what a bloody awful, unethical business. The spawn of Thatchers children. Now I've run out of bile. Hope the NHS can fix me up.
  • Jaysusbeeebebeebeeebeee
    "Chichester based Nuffield Group Hospital that charged an extra £250 for a scan" Yeah, but the free trip to Denmark is well worth it. (see other story about chichester)

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