Bupa never ignored the elderly

DURING the witch-hunt to drive Bupa from our shores, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, came on national television to declare that Bupa showed no interest in providing health insurance cover for the elderly or half-crocks (as he described himself).

He claimed Bupa was cherry-picking and only interested in the young and healthy, or the middle-aged.

Nothing could have been further from the truth (if it exists in Ireland anymore).

However, should cherry-picking mean: placing advertisements in the national press specifically inviting the over-65s to join its health insurance scheme; granting these people immediate cover without having to wait a two-year qualifying period; issuing the over-65s with a €450 voucher for an executive health check at a top of the range clinic; and charging an annual fee, for a more comprehensive cover, at a significantly lower cost than the VHI — then Bupa is guilty.

I am an over-65 who availed of Bupa’s offer. I underwent a thorough three-hour medical check-up in a clinic.

Despite the fact I thought I was reasonably healthy, it was discovered that I had haemeochromatosis, a condition which could lead to disease of the liver and numerous other nasty conditions.

Bupa honoured the cost of my treatment, which came to a satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps the HSE could learn something from Bupa’s example of preventative medicine?

So, I am one old crock that will be eternally grateful to Bupa. I must also mention that before joining Bupa I approached the VHI for health cover but I was turned down on account of my age.

I call on Mr Ahern, if he possesses the slightest morsel of integrity, to go back on national television to make a public apology to Bupa, inviting it to return to Ireland and, instead of expecting it to financially support any lame duck in the Irish health insurance market, direct that the VHI offloads 50% of its over-45-year-olds to Bupa. That would be the fairest and most honourable method of providing risk equalisation.

It would also provide the Irish public with a truly competitive alternative in the health insurance business.

Patrick Murray

37 Mulvey Park

Dundrum

Dublin 14

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