Quinn Group, one of the country's largest businesses, is to enter the Irish health insurance market after it announced that it is to purchase Bupa Ireland.
“We believe our agreement with Bupa presents an opportunity for real competition in the Irish health insurance market. Furthermore our announcement of a price freeze in 2007 demonstrates our commitment to delivering value to health consumers in the Irish market over the longer term", says Quinn Group chairman, Sean Quinn.
It will take a number of weeks to complete outstanding details. In the interim, Bupa Ireland will continue taking new business and will honour all existing contracts.
Bupa Ireland had 450,000 subscribers when it announced last month that it was to withdraw from the Irish market over the Government's controversial risk equalisation scheme which would have seen it pay tens of millions of euro to rivals with older membership profiles.
As a newcomer to the health insurance market, the Quinn Group will be exempt from risk equalisation payments for three years.
Risk equalisation was designed to see other insurers compensate rival VHI for having a greater proportion of older, more expensive subscribers. Bupa's decision to exit the Irish market followed its loss of a High Court challenge against the introduction of the risk equalisation scheme.
The Quinn Group already operates as an insurer in Ireland and the UK - and this deal could well see the group offer a wider range of insurances in the UK.