Bill will cut healthcare cost
A Bill that will reduce the cost of standard healthcare, HIP and FutureCare premiums has been passed in the House of Assembly with amendments from the Opposition.
The Health (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2017 will also adjust benefits and move dialysis and kidney transplants to the mutual reinsurance fund and remove the ten-month maternity cover exclusion.
Health and seniors minister Jeanne Atherden told the House that it was the first time she was aware of a reduction in rates — the reduction amounts to $4.07 per month, down to $334 per month.
Ms Atherden said: “We have been making every effort to reduce healthcare costs and, at last, are starting to see green shoots.
“The most important indicator telling us we’re on the right track is the National Health Accounts report. This report monitors annual total health spending and the latest report shows that in 2011 health spending began to level off, and in 2015 total health spending actually went down by 1.1 per cent for the first time on record. We finally bent the cost-curve — and we’re the first country to do so, compared to the OECD.”
Two benefits will be added to the standard health benefit helping to reduce healthcare costs and premiums: palliative care in the home setting and coverage for select oral chemotherapies which are more cost effective.
There will also be an increase to the artificial limbs and appliances benefits from $30,000 to $100,000 adding $0.67 to the premium.
The benefit limit for kidney transplants will increase from $30,000 to $100,000 — claims for kidney transplants up to $100,000 will be covered by the MRF. It is hoped that the $100,000 coverage will enable more people to afford transplants, thereby reducing the need for dialysis (which currently costs $200,000 per year). The transfer to MRF and benefit limit increase will result in a MRF increase of $2.74.
HIP will receive an additional $6.53 per month from the MRF, and FutureCare will receive an additional $2.50 transfer from the MRF.
Ms Atherden also highlighted the need to remove the exclusion for maternity care owing to the risk this exclusion presents to unborn children and expectant mothers.
The kidney transplant benefit for HIP and FutureCare will be set at $50,000 so that, together with the MRF coverage, clients have a maximum of $150,000 coverage for transplants that will enable coming off dialysis.
Shadow health minister Kim Wilson expressed concerns with the adjustments in dialysis. Describing Bermuda as a “sophisticated jurisdiction”, Ms Wilson said that the island should have a “redundancy plan” for the one dialysis facility on the island, at the hospital, in the event that it fails.
“It is particularly alarming. We need to be able to offer a choice,” she said. The amendment included the provision for other facilities, should they arise, to fall under the legislation.
The Bill was approved with the amendment.