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WAR OVER HEALTH.

PRIVATE health giant BUPA is going to court after it was ordered to hand over more than EUR20m to arch-rival VHI.

Ireland's two largest health insurance companies will battle it out in the European Court after BUPA was forced to pay the semi-state company "compensation" for its older and riskier client base under a risk equalisation scheme.

The VHI is not allowed to refuse health cover to an Irish citizen, regardless of how sick or old they are while private companies, like BUPA, are free to refuse cover.

BUPA has assured its customers that premiums will not be effected by the payout.

BUPA claims the subsidy will more than double VHI profits - even though the company is in line for an 8 per cent hike in premiums in September.

VHI is also seeking a EUR60m handout from Government before privatisation which is planned within two years.

Last month a third company, The Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund, one of the leading health insurers in Britain announced plans to enter the Irish market by 2006.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2003
Words:173
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