Consultation process on health plan continues
The Government intends to “soft launch” a significant revision of Bermuda’s healthcare next autumn, but full implementation could take years.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, told a town hall in Sandys last night that the details of the Bermuda Health Plan and how it will be rolled out are still under discussion as the consultation process continues.
Ms Wilson told an audience of about 50 at St James Church Hall that the Government will work with stakeholders, such as insurers and doctors, to determine how the transition from the existing healthcare model to the new scheme could be carried out.
She suggested that it may be decided that a percentage of the population be moved into the new system, with more being added over time.
Ms Wilson added: “It may be a couple of years before all 65,000 are in.
“The stakeholders will be able to say what would be reasonable to expect.”
She said the existing standard healthcare benefit offered little in the way of preventive and primary care, which the new plan is intended to address.
Ms Wilson said: “With the standard healthcare rate, 95 per cent of it is for inpatient and outpatient care.
“We are looking at cases where people say they can’t afford to go to the doctor because they can’t afford the copay, so we want to include primary-care visits with a regular fee, a regular copay, to encourage people who are saying they can’t go to a doctor to go for their annual visit.”
She said such an approach would mean issues may be caught and addressed sooner, which would reduce overall healthcare costs.
But Ms Wilson said the specifics of what the plan would contain, and what it would cost, are still up for discussion.
A “mock package” for a single adult shows the present yearly cost of $7,058 potentially dropping to $6,308, with suggested savings such as:
• Copay per visit to a GP, for two visits a year, cut from $80 per visit to $25
• Copay for a single yearly visit to a specialist, from $200 to $50
• $400 coverage annually for spending in prescription medicines
Ms Wilson explained the meetings are intended to gather public feedback about what benefits they want to see, along with what premiums and copays are reasonable, to find the right balance. Ms Wilson added the ministry had already been told by some that the $400 coverage for prescription medicines seemed too low, but said the standard healthcare benefit does not include such coverage.
The Bermuda Medical Doctors Association voiced reservations about the plan on Sunday and complained about the level of consultation with doctors.
Ms Wilson responded yesterday that the ministry was “fully committed” to continued dialogue with physicians and healthcare providers.
She said: “The Bermuda Medical Doctors Association statement reflects both the shared interest in putting patients first, and the mutual desire to continue dialogue.
“The ministry has been made aware of the BMDA’s position with respect to the Government’s decision to adopt a unified model of health financing. Their concerns are important and will inform the consultation and development of a transition road map to phase reforms gradually and avoid unintended consequences.”
Ms Wilson added that a BMDA representative was included in the Health Financing Reform Stakeholder Consultation Group last year and BMDA members were invited to participate in a survey.
• The Health Financing Stakeholder Consultation Group Report is at www.gov.bm/healthplan
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