Outcome of BUPA High Court Challenge to Risk Equalisation: Statement by Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD

23 November 2006

Minister for Health and Children, Ms Mary Harney TD, today (23rd November 2006) said that “the lengthy judgement delivered today by Mr. Justice McKechnie in this case reflects the range and complexity of the issues which the High Court was asked to adjudicate on.”

“This case centred on a challenge to the Government’s right to regulate the private health insurance market, specifically the risk equalisation provisions. I welcome the endorsement by the Court today of the principles underlying the private health insurance market in Ireland.”

“I intend to take time to study the written judgement fully as soon as it is available and to assess it with the advice of the Attorney General.”

“The Government’s policy is that health insurance cover should be available to people of all ages without price discrimination, that is, the market should be community-rated. Risk equalisation supports this principle.”

“We support a market for health insurance that has transparent, economic pricing and is consumer-focused; where competition is a strong force for choice for consumers; and where insurers compete on a level playing field.”

“I intend to bring forward measures in that context that will remove several distortions in the market that operate to favour VHI. In particular, I will be bringing forward legislation to put VHI on a commercial footing and I will be requesting VHI to meet progressively the same solvency requirements as those required of health insurers regulated by the Financial Regulator.”

“I am willing to meet with the board of BUPA shortly to discuss their concerns.”