Aviva cannot be allowed ‘off the hook’ on lifesaving surgery

Insurance company says they will only pay €22,000 out of €200,000 cost of surgery

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien has called for the intervention of Minister for Health Leo Varadkar into the case of his constituent Colm Callaghan, who “requires life saving medical attention and an operation that is only available in Canada”.

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien has called for the intervention of Minister for Health Leo Varadkar into the case of his constituent Colm Callaghan, who “requires life saving medical attention and an operation that is only available in Canada”.

 

A health insurer has been accused of attempting to “backslide” on lifesaving surgery for an eligible customer because of the €200,000 cost.

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien called for the intervention of Minister for Health Leo Varadkar into the case of his constituent Colm Callaghan (47), who “requires life saving medical attention and an operation that is only available in Canada”.

Mr O’Brien, who used to work in the insurance industry, said it was “galling” that the family’s health insurance document from Aviva clearly stated the family was covered for benefit abroad for surgical procedures not available in Ireland.

He said St Vincent’s Hospital had confirmed a liver operation is required. It was devastating news for the family to receive about this man’s liver cancer, he said.

They contacted Aviva at the time “and were told verbally that they were covered and that it would be dealt with, except for flights and accommodation”.

The Malahide, Co Dublin-based Senator said that “a couple of weeks ago, Aviva came back to them and told them they were not covered and that they would be paid €22,000. The cost of the operation was €200,000”.

“This man has a young family, who are distraught,” he said describing the company’s approach as “absolutely disgraceful”.

The family wrote to the Minister last week to assist and Mr O’Brien said he had also written. Asking Seanad leader Maurice Cummins to take the issue up with the Minister, Mr O’Brien said “it may be that the State will have to step in, but Aviva cannot be let off the hook on this”.

“This man and his family have paid their premiums. They are paid to date. It states on the policy document that they are covered and now Aviva is backsliding purely because of the cost.”

He added: “Aviva needs to do the decent thing, admit the claim and allow this man and his family to travel to Canada to get the treatment and the operation that will save his life.”

The Fianna Fáil Senator said “I intend to get on to the chief executive of Aviva and tell him of the Seanad’s disgust with the manner in which this man and his family have been treated”.

Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik believed they could agree a Seanad cross-party motion and “we can all join on that one”.

Mr Cummins confirmed he would bring the matter to the Minister’s attention. “Obviously, there is a contract between both parties, and that is something that should be addressed,” he said.