Doctors in fee rate warning

Doctors will be unable to cope with a reduction in fees and an increased workload, the Bermuda Medical Doctors’ Association has warned.

The BMDA said it backed improved access to healthcare, but that there were “significant costs” involved and more consultation was needed.

A spokeswoman added: “Much work is already done by community physicians without charges, pro bono or at significantly reduced fees.”

She said: “Although all physicians are understandably concerned that any changes may affect their workload and/or pay, what needs to be understood is that we all have the intention to provide the best quality care to anyone who needs it.

“With the current system, many in the Bermuda community are not able to access this care.”

The spokeswoman added that preventive care, such as high blood pressure screening and management, education to assist in the management and even reversal of diabetes and early diagnosis of other conditions, including potential killers like chronic kidney disease, cancer and heart disease, were not covered by the basic health insurance package.

She said: “This means that those with the least resources have to pay out of pocket for these essential services.

“It also happens that these groups are usually at the highest risk for chronic diseases and therefore need most care.

“Even those who have supplemental major medical health insurance are often left with substantial co-payments under the current reimbursement schemes.”

She was speaking after a marathon three and a half-hour meeting attended by more than 40 doctors, mostly GPs, last Wednesday to discuss regulations by the Bermuda Health Council.

The spokeswoman said: “Our local health insurers pay significantly more to providers overseas for the same services than they reimburse to local physicians.

“The goal of any changes is not about physician pay, but it is about finding a way to reduce out of pocket costs for essential healthcare locally.”

The spokeswoman denied claims by two doctors, who asked not to be named, that strike action could be taken if the profession’s concerns were not dealt with.

The spokeswoman said: “There has been no discussion about strike action from the BMDA.”

She added the meeting was organised so doctors could be “more involved in developing solutions” to tackle inequalities in the island’s healthcare system.

The spokeswoman said: “The BMDA will be coordinating task groups to assist the Health Council and the Ministry of Health in constructive dialogue.

“The physician community must be intimately involved from the start in creating solutions that will benefit all of Bermuda.”

Ricky Brathwaite, the acting chief executive of BHeC, said after last week’s meeting: “We won’t expect the physicians of Bermuda to provide a service that can’t pay their bills.”

But Dr Braithwaite added: “We can’t continue to sell the public of Bermuda a product they cannot afford.

“We are looking forward to having regular meetings with the physician community to talk about healthcare and we will purposefully and meaningfully have them.

“The primary purpose of these meetings is to break down what is working well now in our health system and what is not working well and come up with solutions.”

To read the statement in full, click on the PDF below “Related Media”.

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Published Jul 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm (Updated Jul 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm)

Doctors in fee rate warning

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