Nearly 3,000 sign Patients First petition

Almost 3,000 people have signed a petition to demand that controversial proposals to change the way health insurance is funded are scrapped.

The petition against the Bermuda Health Plan was set up just after a public forum that called for the proposed changes to be taken off the table.

But a health ministry spokeswoman said last night that a four-month public consultation period had given “good time for the public to participate in the discussion”.

She was speaking after Patients First, a group of doctors in the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association, launched a online petition against the proposals on Tuesday night in the wake of a town-hall meeting that criticised the plan.

The Bermuda Health Plan was designed to pool all the island’s residents in one unified health insurance package.

That would replace the present Standard Health Benefit, which is paid into by private insurance companies to cover health costs.

The ministry argued that a health insurance pool would be more efficient and share costs across the island’s residents.

Henry Dowling, the president of the BMDA, said the proposed changes would create a monopoly in health insurance that would also hit the quality of care and fail to reduce healthcare costs.

But the health ministry spokeswoman insisted: “Bermuda’s population is small from an insurance pool perspective. With insurance it’s the law of big numbers that makes a difference in managing risk.”

She added: “The standard health benefit is already in a virtual single pool and the premium has been community rated since 1970.

“Like many public goods, this is not about a monopoly or a market, but about how effectively it is regulated and how well it serves the population.”

She said the Bermuda Health Plan wanted to create “a larger, more efficient risk pool that will create a sustainable platform to improve access and sustainability in our health system”.

The ministry said that more than 45 meetings were held on the reforms with more than 500 participants and public views continued to be sent to the email address

The spokeswoman added: “The feedback we are hearing will inform the next stage of the process when working groups will be set up to digest the public input and make recommendations on how we should proceed.”

The wide-ranging healthcare changes are expected to be launched in the autumn of next year.

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Published Nov 28, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 28, 2019 at 6:39 am)

Nearly 3,000 sign Patients First petition

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