The most important thing in our healthcare future
Patients 1st is a weekly column where the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association answers your questions about the proposed Bermuda Health Plan 2020 and how it may impact you and your family.
Today we’re looking at how dentists feel about the Bermuda Health Plan 2020. The Bermuda Dental Association recently met to discuss the concerns, consequences and impact the BHP will have on patients.
Based on the results of a survey, 100 per cent feel the plan will not lower the cost of healthcare, improve access to healthcare or improve the quality of healthcare; 100 per cent support a delay in rolling out a new healthcare plan.
Read some of the questions from patients, below:
Q: Will the BHP cover me, not just for preventive dental care, but for periodontal disease and infected teeth?
A: Preventive care is always a good place to start when treating diseases and conditions but it is not enough. For example, the BHP may pay for basic dental coverage (the Ministry of Health has not finalised what will be covered as consultation is ongoing). Under the BHP you will not be covered to treat decayed teeth, periodontal disease or infected teeth.
All of these procedures would be paid for through additional/supplemental insurance or paid out of pocket.
Essentially what this means is, under the BHP we can diagnose disease but patients will not be able to afford to treat disease without purchasing additional supplemental insurance.
Q: Can I continue to see my dentist?
A: Under the BHP you can continue to be treated by your dentist and any other healthcare provider as long as they agree to accept the BHP insurance or you have the additional supplementary insurance.
If your dentist has opted not to accept BHP insurance you may need to search for a dentist that is willing. At present, the Bermuda Government cannot legally mandate any healthcare professional in private practice to accept the BHP.
Q: Why would dentists choose not to participate in the BHP?
A: The dentists feel the BHP model is flawed, that it will not improve patients’ access to healthcare and will not improve the quality of healthcare. They feel Government has not performed their due diligence on this very important and complicated matter.
We have not seen evidence of a country that has a unified plan that did not put income tax in place before considering it. More thought, information, accurate data, consultation with all stakeholders and an evaluation of unintended and unforeseen consequences must be discussed and reviewed before proceeding with this drastic healthcare plan.
At present, the population size is 60,800 and 58,677 have health insurance covering them for not just preventive care, but restorative care, orthodontic care, oral surgery and periodontal care. That leaves 2,123 citizens uninsured, less than 0.3 per cent of the Bermuda population.
The dentists feel Government should focus of providing improved health insurance and coverage to those uninsured through the Department of Health clinic — which is currently underfunded and underutilised — and community outreach programmes.
We can continue to provide pro bono care (the majority of us already do) to those without insurance, to those who cannot afford dental care, but this would become unaffordable should the BHP be implemented.
Despite protestations that this is a “work in progress” and subject to stakeholders’ consultation, let it not be forgotten that both David Burt, the Premier, and Kim Wilson, the health minister, have separately stated that whatever opposition there may be, they are committed to enforcing this on the Bermudian public and that “the unified plan” is not up for discussion. The discussion of a unified plan should be THE MOST IMPORTANT discussion taking place. But it should probably only take place if you, the people, also agree to income tax for all so that we could properly fund such a unified system.
The Bermuda Dental Association will be present at a public forum at 5.30pm tomorrow at St Paul Centennial Hall. Space may be limited as the public support and questions have been overwhelming. Please rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Bermuda Medical Doctors Association is a local body of physicians that represent the concerns of community physicians working directly for the welfare of the doctor/patient relationship. Over the past five years, the BMDA has grown to more than 75 physicians, which represents the majority of community doctors on the island
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