Insurers ‘must be involved’ in health changes

Introducing a universal system of health insurance without input from private health insurers will be difficult, newly rebranded Laya Healthcare has warned.

Laya, formerly Quinn Healthcare, and the country’s second largest private health insurer, announced yesterday that it is to create 100 jobs in Cork over the next three years.

The company, which has 450,000 members, employs 343 people at its headquarters in Little Island, Co Cork.

Laya’s managing director, Dónal Clancy, from Glanworth, Co Cork, said all of the stakeholders, including private insurers, needed to be involved in planning for universal health insurance.

“I am hopeful that universal health insurance will work, but if all of the various stakeholders are not involved the process will be very difficult — it will be more challenging than it has to be,” said Mr Clancy.

The implementation group on universal health insurance is chaired by a senior official from the Department of Health and includes members of other parts of the public service and outside experts.

James Reilly, the health minister, said the group, set up earlier this year, was not intended to be representative of all stakeholders and that he was committed to consulting widely.

Mr Clancy said it was not just a question of deciding to follow a Dutch or German model of universal health insurance.

“The system will not work if the funding element ignores the customers’ ability to pay for it.”

He said Laya would position itself as “the key consumer champion” in the private health insurance market.

“All of us involved in the sector recognise that there are significant issues and problems which need to be resolved.

“For our part we, at Laya Healthcare, will do everything possible to ensure that our members have a strong voice from within the industry to champion their cause and to add positively to the national healthcare debate.”

Laya also announced that members from 12 years upward would be able to avail of free cardiac screening.

The HeartBeat initiative, developed with provider HeartAid, was put in place to help combat the incident of sudden adult death syndrome, heart attacks, and other cardiac-related conditions.

Laya Healthcare’s polices are underwritten by Elips Insurance Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss Re.

The company was formed following a management-led buy out of Quinn Healthcare last December. Most of the senior team have been with the organisation since it launched as Bupa Ireland in 1977.


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