Noonan defends stance on BUPA


THE Minister for Health, Mr Noonan, has strongly defended his handling of the difficulties which have arisen in relation to BUPA products.

He rejected criticisms by the Fianna Fail spokeswoman, Mrs Maire Geoghegan Quinn, yesterday that the handling of the health insurance controversy had been "a disgrace". A quick end had to be put to the uncertainty and confusion, she said. She would be raising the issue on the return of the Dail on January 22nd.

Both he and the Government were totally committed to upholding the principle of community rating, Mr Noonan said. Necessary measures had been taken and would continue to be taken.

BUPA and other providers were. free to launch their products without his agreement as regulator, according to the Minister. What they were not free to do was to enter into insurance contracts with which he had problems in relation to them being in line with community rating or other statutory requirements.

Neither he nor his Department delayed in doing what had to be done, Mr Noonan said. As soon as his Department received information from BUPA on its products on November 20th, his officials immediately began an analysis of these new products. Advice on the complex issues involved were taken from legal and, insurance experts. This enabled a detailed response to be delivered to BUPA on December 13th.

He said that discussions began in December and four meetings had been held between his officials and BUPA. Discussions were continuing between BUPA and his Department.