Mortgage and life assurance scheme launched

A STATE-FUNDED life assurance and mortgage protection scheme for people infected with hepatitis or HIV from contaminated blood products has been launched by the Government.

Positive Action, which represents women with state-acquired hepatitis C and or HIV, said the scheme was “long awaited” as to date, their members could not enter the housing market because of their medical condition. Travel insurance will also be provided.

Launching the scheme, Minister for Health Mary Harney said: “The infection of people with contaminated blood products was catastrophic. This new scheme is an important measure to provide further support to them. Since 1997, it has been clear that the inability of these people to buy life assurance or mortgage protection policies added further problems to the damage they had already suffered.”

It is 11 years since Positive Action and the Irish Haemophilia Society first sought the insurance support from the State as their members faced expensive policy loadings because of their health status.

Under the new scheme, HIV or hepatitis C sufferers eligible under the scheme will pay the standard premium and the State will cover any excess applied.

A steering committee was established last September to advise on the implementation of the scheme. The Irish Haemophilia Society, the Irish Kidney Association, Positive Action and Transfusion Positive were all represented on the steering committee.

Scheme administrator, John Dwyer said the project will give greater security to sufferers and their families.

“This scheme will have a very positive impact on the lives of those infected as it will ensure that they can take out life or mortgage insurance in much the same way as anybody else. This in effect means that they and their families will now have greater security and peace of mind into the future.”

Positive Action chairwoman Eleanor O’Mahony said Eagle Star has already come on board to back the insurance scheme and urged other insurers to do so that “competition could be stimulated” in the sector.

lThe scheme details are outlined at www.hepcinsurance.ie and information can be obtained from lo-call 1850 211 570.

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