Argus buy-up a ‘huge conflict’

  • Game-changer: Alison Hill, Argus chief executive (File photograph)

    Game-changer: Alison Hill, Argus chief executive (File photograph)

The buy-up of two medical practices by an insurance firm has been branded a “huge conflict” by the chairman of a healthcare pressure group.

Mark Selley, the chairman of the Bermuda Healthcare Advisory Group, said that little information had been made public on the purchase by the Argus Group — despite a two-year process.

Mr Selley added: “The path that is being undertaken by Argus is discreetly turning into a small investment company that is driven to increase the return of their shareholders’ investments.

“Incidentally, there has been no discussion on the property value that is attached to this purchase that has not been discussed with the public.”

Mr Selley said: “We are very distressed to hear this news after the buyout transaction and that our healthcare gatekeepers, the Bermuda Health Council, had no knowledge nor was consulted and informed of this proposed purchase which now, it has been mentioned, was in the works for the last two years.”

He was speaking after Argus announced last week that it had bought Island Health Services and the Family Practice Group.

The move means that about 15 doctors from the two surgeries will become part of Argus Group Holdings.

Mr Selley claimed the deal was “more about satisfying shareholders than the outcome of patient care”.

He questioned the “secrecy” around the acquisition and how it would benefit healthcare for patients and lead to lower costs.

Mr Selley said: “This buyout would appear to be a huge conflict and we are not happy with how this was conducted.

“From what was previously rumoured, Argus had been earmarked as administrators to the new proposed universal national health plan.”

He added: “Argus continue to raise their healthcare premiums year over year. We see no benefit of this buyout to policyholders and healthcare overall in Bermuda.

“This should have been elaborated on and how this will initiate bringing down healthcare costs in Bermuda.”

A spokeswoman for the Argus Group declined to comment on the buy-up.

But she added that the firm “looks forward to talking to The Royal Gazette at a later time” to explain how the acquisition would benefit healthcare.

Alison Hill, the chief executive of Argus, said earlier this month the deal was “a game-changer” and created a partnership with a “patient-centric approach to healthcare”.

She added: “By joining insurance and healthcare together, we aim to make quality care more affordable for more people.”

Peter Lozier, the Argus chief executive for the Americas, said that Argus clients would not get a better deal from the practices that people insured with other companies.

He added: “Absolutely not. It’s business as usual. Our aim with this acquisition is beyond the scope of just Argus clients.”

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Published Jul 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 13, 2020 at 6:38 am)

Argus buy-up a ‘huge conflict’

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