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'healthcare coins' New service launched for people without health insurance to buy vouchers for treatments

Letsbuyhealthcare offers members the chance to buy €50 'healthcare coins' which can be redeemed for treatments by GPs and in hospitals

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A new service has been launched allowing people who do not have health insurance to buy vouchers that are used to pay for treatments.

Letsbuyhealthcare offers members the chance to buy €50 “healthcare coins” which can be redeemed for treatments by GPs and in hospitals and clinics.

One in five people do not have health insurance or a medical card, with the new service operating as a sort of savings club for these people to fund the cost of medical treatments.

Members will be opting to self-pay for treatments and can buy the vouchers and build up a healthcare fund in their name.

Families or individuals can then use their own dedicated healthcare fund to pay for treatment on the Letsbuyhealthcare portal.

Initially the fund built up with the healthcare coins can be redeemed with any GP or hospitals, but it is hoped in time to offer deals through GP surgeries, hospitals and clinics that sign up with the new service.

Irish Life’s ILP Pension Trustees will oversee the operation of the funds, which will be operated as a health co-op.

Once coins are purchased they have to be used for healthcare treatments and cannot be redeemed for other purposes.

The new operation has been founded by former director of finance at the National Treatment Purchase Fund David Allen, and former director at Vhi John Looney.

Mr Allen said there was an opportunity for employers to gift Healthcare Coin Vouchers to any employee each year, tax-free, up to a value of €500.

He said those buying healthcare coins from his company would not be restricted from access to treatments because of pre-existing conditions, as happens with health insurance.

With almost one million people on hospital waiting lists, the new model is expected to appeal to those who do not want to wait for treatment in public hospitals.

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For those joining early there is an opening offer of free Healthcare Coins worth €100 and a reduced, once off, co-op sign on fee of €5.

Mr Allen said: “Everyone can now have their own separate family fund dedicated to private healthcare – and nothing else.”

He said it was something that is built up over time to meet future routine GP and community based medical services as well as trying to allow for any serious problems that potentially might need a consultation or day-case, inpatient or even a residential stay.

“People can now weigh up the likelihood of the family needing to access either public or private healthcare in the future, the likelihood of needing community or hospital care, the likelihood of needing psychological or physical care, or the likelihood of needing emergency or elective care and then try to decide, plan and budget accordingly, without any concerns that current age or current healthcare history will somehow be penalised,” Mr Allen said.

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