IRISH HEALTH SYSTEM PROBLEMS: Delays in refunds for treatments abroad

20 June 2019
By Bryan Smyth

Lengthy backlogs leading to reimbursement delays for patients

4,000 applications still being processed

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central Michael McGrath has said the delays in the HSE issuing refunds to patients who have been forced to go abroad for treatment is a double insult and has called for the issue to be tackled.

Deputy McGrath made the call after he was informed that the turnaround time for reimbursements to patients for costs incurred under the Cross Border Directive has risen from 30 days to 70 days, with some 4,000 claims waiting to be processed.

Deputy McGrath explained, “The current situation whereby people are being forced to travel to Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the EU for routine procedures such as cataracts and hip replacements because the waiting lists in our own health service are so long is bad enough, but the fact that these patients are now seeing their reimbursements delayed by over two months is a double insult.

Carrigaline TD Michael McGrath

“The Cross Border Directive offers people languishing on waiting lists an opportunity to avail of health services in another European country. They can then recoup costs from the HSE for the amount of that treatment in Ireland, or the cost of the treatment abroad, if that is less.

“The scheme has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years as waiting lists here have become unbearably long. However, there are now serious issues with the length of time people have to wait to be reimbursed after paying for their procedure. This is not only frustrating for them but also financially crippling.

“The Minister for Health needs to take up this issue with the HSE as a matter of urgency and ensure this backlog of claims is cleared in a reasonable timeframe,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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