Calls for more dialogue on healthcare reform
Legislation to change how money is allocated to the Bermuda Hospitals Board is not in the island’s best interests, a top insurance executive said yesterday.
John Wight, the president and chief executive of BF&M, said that “the healthcare funding reform brought to the House of Assembly today is not the best path forward for Bermuda”.
He added: “We remain convinced that dialogue is essential if we are to achieve improved health outcomes and long-term, sustainable healthcare funding solutions.”
Mr Wight was speaking after the Health Insurance Amendment Act was tabled in Parliament.
The Government is to pay an annual grant to BHB, capped at $330 million for the coming year, to replace the existing fee-for-service arrangement.
The block payment will be funded by the Government with a more than threefold increase in the amount it takes from monthly premium payments — up from $101.97 to $331.97.
The cash will be put into the Mutual Reinsurance Fund.
The new system is scheduled to take effect on June 1.
Naz Farrow, the chief executive of Colonial Group International, said the firm had hoped for a “more consultative, more inclusive approach to the healthcare challenge facing Bermuda”.
She added: “The situation is complex, with the potential to deeply affect the lives of thousands of Bermudians across the board. The views of all stakeholders must be carefully considered in order to achieve reforms that are sustainable and that bring about better health outcomes.”
Insurance firm Argus did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, hit out at BF&M last week over the firm’s claim to clients that an increase in premiums was due to the Government’s changes to the system.
She said the claim was “unconscionable” and that the premiums hike by BF&M was “to fund their profits”.
But Mr Wight insisted that the increase was due in part to the proposed healthcare changes.
He said that the Government’s changes were “an exercise in reallocating funds” and failed to deal with the real factors behind the high cost of healthcare in Bermuda.
Mr Wight added: “Premiums will continue to increase as a result of our ageing population and the growing number of adults with chronic diseases.”
Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said: “My initial comments are that it appears that proper consultation has not been carried out as it should have been as people are still asking questions about this legislation — and we don’t really know what the full implications on the health system and on jobs will be.”