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HIA raised concerns over refunds on fitness trackers and life coaching

At its Board meetings in November and January, the Authority discussed recent product innovations in the private health insurance market. Some newly-launched plans offer refunds on expenditure, including life coaching and wearable fitness trackers. “Members raised concerns in regard to these types of product developments, their appropriateness, and the implication of these product developments for the market,” the minutes of the HIA meeting in January noted. The minutes have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.

 “Management have raised the issue with the Department of Health and requested that it is placed on the agenda for the next Health Insurance Consultative Forum,” continued the minutes.

A spokesperson for the Authority told MI that it “reviews all health insurance products before they become available in the market”.

“Attention was drawn to these specific product developments and the HIA Board, following discussion, requested that the issue be raised with the insurers to get their views and perspective on these particular developments. HIA management raised the issue of these types of product developments, their appropriateness, and the implication of these product developments for the market with the health insurance companies at the meeting of the Health Insurance Consultative Forum, March 2018.”

The spokesperson said the HIA reviews all product developments in relation to compliance with the Health Insurance Acts and also considers their impact on the market.  “Currently, the HIA does not deem any product offering, or any product development, to be non-compliant with the Health Insurance Acts,” they added.

According to the HIA, the issue was discussed at the Forum, with private insurers defending the practice. “Views were expressed that the wearable fitness trackers, etc, are included as part of specific products, the purpose and objective of such initiatives being to encourage healthy living among the insured,” said the spokesperson. 

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