Insurance Industry seeks talks on new Asbestos Bill: New legislation put on temporary hold to allow discussions

Campaigners and politicians behind proposed legislation to make the insurance industry pay back the NHS the cost of treating asbestos victims have been contacted by the insurance industry.   

SNP West of Scotland MSP Stuart McMillan and Scotland’s largest asbestos charity, Clydeside Action on Asbestos, are behind the bill that would see the industry pay back the NHS millions of pounds spent every year on treating Scots afflicted by terrible diseases caused by exposure to asbestos.

Speaking about the approach from the Association of British Insurers Mr McMillan commented:

“The ABI have contacted me to say they want to talk about The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Scotland) Bill to see if there are ways we can progress the situation without the need for legislation.  This is an olive branch from the industry so I have decided to not progress the bill at the moment so talks can take place.

“Both myself and CAA remain committed to the principle that those who cause asbestos disease payback the NHS for the cost of treatments but it’s important to engage with everyone involved to obtain the best possible outcome.”

Phyllis Craig, senior welfare rights officer at Clydeside Action said:

“This offer of talks by the industry is highly significant. It shows that our campaign for justice for victims and the NHS has been noted at the very highest levels of the insurance industry and they now want to come to the table. CAA has always been committed to achieving the best for asbestos victims and the NHS so we’ll be approaching these talks with an open mind and a constructive agenda.  Having said that if it turns out the Insurance bosses are not serious we will press ahead with the bill as quickly as possible.”

Notes 

Clydeside Action on Asbestos estimate that over 20 million pounds a year is spent by NHS Scotland diagnosing and treating people suffering from the horrendous effects of asbestos exposure. The proposed bill will enable the NHS to re-coup those costs from insurance companies who have already settled civil claims with victims. The costs of treatment will be calculated from a patient’s initial diagnosis.

Based on figures provided by health care professionals involved in the treatment of these asbestos diseases we estimate that the average costs for each of the above noted conditions would be as follows:

Mesothelioma/Lung cancer

Based on the above the potential input being recovered for providing basic treatment/care for an individual with either mesothelioma or asbestos related lung cancer is underestimated at £54,180. The total underestimated figure for settled cases in 2012 is £3,955,140.

Asbestosis/Pleural thickening

For patients with asbestosis or pleural thickening there is a potential to recover an underestimated £20,000 per individual. The total underestimated figure for settled cases in 2012 was £5,480,000.

Cost of Diagnosis

The above figures do not include initial investigations. Where an asbestos condition is identified on chest x ray the individual will be sent for further investigations incurring further costs. These costs would be associated with all asbestos conditions including Pleural Plaque as although there are no costs for treating Pleural Plaques there are initial costs post diagnosis of this condition.

Our research suggests in total a potential of over 20 million pounds being recouped back into the NHS in Scotland each year.

We fully anticipate that our proposal will be met with strong resistance from the Association of British Insurers.  We have detailed our estimation of the potential costs of this scheme.  This must be considered in the light of the significant profits made by the main three insurers which for the tax year ending April 2013 were as undernoted:

Aviva  £60 Million

RSA   £427 million

Allianz £191 million

Zurich £642 million

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