Thursday 25 December 2014

The Punt: Goode's departure is a blow to Irish Life

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

Health insurance expert Dermot Goode
Health insurance expert Dermot Goode

IRISH Life's Cornmarket division has suffered a blow with the decision of health insurance expert Dermot Goode to set up on his own.

Mr Goode (inset) is an acknowledged expert on private medical insurance and was brought into Cornmarket to boost its profile and sales in that area.

But he has struck out on his own to set up Total Health Cover, which has a snazzy new website at totalhealthcover.ie with pared down comparions on different health plans.

A lecturer on health insurance with the Insurance Institute of Ireland and a co-author of a textbook on the topic, Mr Goode is a regular contributor on radio and television on healthcare issues.

His departure from Cornmarket is expected to leave a gaping hole at the insurer.

It comes just as new figures from the Health Insurance Authority show that the numbers with private health insurance continue to collapse.

Some 82,000 people have dropped their cover since the end of last year, taking the total with health insurance down to 2.017 million.

This means we are on course to drop below 2 million subscribers by the end of the year.

New rules which will penalise those who wait until they are over the age of 35 before taking out health insurance are due to take effect from May and could help reverse the decline in the total number insured.

But the pressure on household budgets means that this is by no means certain to provide a huge increase in sales of new policies.

Mr Goode's previous employer, Irish Life, will be hoping there is a bounce in sales as it has a major stake in new fast-growing health insurer GloHealth.

Michael Noonan at sea on doctor's orders

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been at sea.

Literally.

And it's even doctor-prescribed.

As readers will be aware, the minister confirmed in June that he had been treated for cancer.

He underwent surgery as well as radiotherapy to remove a cancerous lump found on his right arm earlier in the year.

Mr Noonan revealed yesterday that he has been recovering well following the surgery.

And he joked that he was "the only one in Ireland who is swimming on a prescription."

He added that his doctor, the former Olympic swimmer Gary O'Toole, had prescribed swimming rather than physio to restore muscle following his cancer treatment earlier this year.

"The operation took away some muscle on my shoulder and it inhibited me somewhat. Gary, being a great Olympic swimmer himself, prescribed swimming as the exercise rather than physiotherapy.

"So I've been swimming right through August," he said, adding that he will have regular check-ups from now on.

"I'm the only one in Ireland who's swimming under prescription."

Mr Noonan also reiterated that it is his intention to stand again in the next general election.

The Punt wishes him good health.

Rolling Stone hits rhythm on tax avoidance

US magazine Rolling Stone is the latest publication to rock into the debate over US corporations using countries such as Ireland to minimise their tax liabilities back home.

The subject has, of course, been the subject of much debate here and in the United States for some time now, with US President Barack Obama having promised to take action.

'The Biggest Tax Scam Ever' is the headline that screams out at readers in a recent edition of the magazine. "The things these companies are doing, 20 years ago would almost certainly have been illegal," Bob McIntyre, president of Citizens for Tax Justice, told Rolling Stone.

"But now you've got so many big, powerful corporations doing it that it's the norm. Systematic avoidance helps explain why corporate income taxes - one-third of federal revenue in the 1950s - have now dropped below 10pc of Treasury receipts today," he added.

The magazine notes that President Obama (inset) has been a sharp critic of tax avoidance schemes. "Yet the offshore corporate earnings stash has nearly doubled on his watch," says Rolling Stone.

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has unleashed blistering attacks on corporations like Walgreens that have threatened to renounce their US citizenship for tax purposes. And he has said he's "ready to roll" on a vote for a (sure-to-fail) Democratic bill that seeks a two-year moratorium on inversions," it adds.

"The kid-glove treatment of corporate tax offenders by both parties is exhibit A in America's shift from a functioning democracy to a nascent oligarchy." Mmm, the Punt isn't so sure.

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