Bedside robbery: private patients charged more for having insurance
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.