During 2011, Vhi Healthcare paid out €12.1 million in claims for the healthcare needs of its customers in Offaly. The biggest spend involved claims for the treatment of cancer which exceeded €2m, including €384,000 spent on claims for breast, bladder and prostate malignancy.
Orthopaedic procedures including replacement knee and hip joints, fractures and back problems accounted for a further €1.96m of total spend, followed closely by heart and circulatory conditions which cost €1.4m to treat. Claims benefit of over €800,000 was allocated to cover 226 claims for arthritis and rheumatism.
Customers from Offaly admitted to hospital for treatment of digestive system problems such as stomach ulcers, gallstones, inflammatory bowel disease etc, incurred costs of nearly €1.28m. Additionally, €946,000 was allocated for claims associated with the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and included expenses relating to the treatment of strokes, brain haemorrhage, damage to nerves and many other conditions. Some €983,000 was allowed towards the investigation of non-specific symptoms and illnesses, and claims for which no final diagnosis could be established.
Mental health issues for people living in Offaly - including treatment for depression, anxiety, personality disorders and psychoses - came to €412,000. Respiratory problems that included pneumonia, asthma, viral infections etc cost over €626,000 to treat.
According to John O Dwyer, Chief Executive, Vhi Healthcare, “We are very focused on cost containment and believe it is central to delivering affordable healthcare. Our approach has been multifaceted and we have looked at all areas of the business to achieve savings. Since 2009, Vhi Healthcare has reduced consultants’ fees by 15% and has also reduced the prices we pay for various procedures by between 13% and 53%. For example in the case of a heart patient, the professional fee paid for the insertion of an ordinary stent has gone from €1,100 to €220, for someone requiring an MRI Scan the cost has gone from €650 to €160, or for someone who requires treatment to save their sight because they suffer from age-related macular degeneration, the cost of that injection has gone from €306 to €200.”
He continued: “In our agreement with consultants for 2012 we have introduced a payment system for Radiologist and Pathologists based on the National Quality Benchmarks which will in effect reduce length of stay particularly for medical admissions. This has the potential to save €42 million per year for Vhi Healthcare in hospital costs. The cumulative effect of our cost saving initiatives means that when the current agreement with consultants ends in 2014 we will have turned back the clock 10 years because the benefits we pay to consultants will be in line with what we paid in 2004.”
Other claims payouts for Vhi Healthcare customers in Offaly included:
* €500,000 paid out on maternity deliveries, including complications;
* €546,000 for treatment of eye conditions;
* €278,000 for treatment of skin conditions;
* €318,000 for 243 customers in Offaly who suffered slipped discs;
* €101,000 for 62 customers needing surgery to correct congenital medical conditions present since birth;
* €104,000 for 96 customers treated for haemorrhoids (piles);
* Even fit people can incur claims costs as more than €258,000 was paid out on 186 claims for customers from Offaly injured in falls, domestic accidents, workplace injuries, on the farm, or while engaged in sports and leisure activities.