Life and health insurance industry responds to Quebec consultation on healthcare

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MONTREAL, June 7, 2006 – In its submission to the Parliamentary Committee conducting public hearings on the Quebec government’s recent health reform proposals, the life and health insurance industry commended the Quebec government’s highly consultative approach to developing its health reform plans which include a somewhat increased scope for private delivery and private financing to contribute to meeting the health needs of Quebecers. An industry delegation put forward the industry’s views at the Parliamentary Committee today.

“Realistically speaking however, Quebecers should not expect a significantly greater role for private insurance based on these proposals”, cautions Yves Millette, Senior Vice President, Quebec Affairs, for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). “The proposals are quite limited in terms of additional scope for private insurance,” he added.

The submission suggests that, in order to provide more scope for private insurance, private insurance should be permitted for services delivered by opted-out physicians without requiring them to establish completely private clinics. And, private insurance should be permitted not only for elective services covered by care guarantees, but also for other elective services delivered by opted-out physicians.

With respect to loss-of-autonomy insurance and the need for intergenerational equity, life and health insurers already offer long-term care and critical illness products which can make a major contribution in this area. The industry urges the government to more clearly define the scope of public coverage in this area to permit Quebecers to make long-term financial plans for their old age, which combine the appropriate mix of private and public coverage.

“The life and health insurance industry remains committed to working in partnership with the Quebec government to reduce the financial pressures on the healthcare system,” said Mr. Millette. For many years, health insurance plans delivered by the industry have played a major role in meeting five million Quebecers’ health care needs. Most of these plans are traditional extended health group insurance plans but new products such as critical illness insurance and long term care insurance have been emerging rapidly.

In 2004, private health insurance plans paid $2.8 billion for health expenses not covered by Quebec’s public health insurance plan. This included, for example, $190 million in payments to Quebec’s hospitals, $220 million for services such as long-term care and paramedical assistance, and $1.5 billion for prescription drug costs of Quebecers through working in partnership with the Quebec government to deliver the Universal Drug Plan.

Operating since 1894, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association represents companies that together account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business.