Health insurance reform to go ahead
Changes to the healthcare insurance system will go ahead, despite a call from the Opposition to put the plans on hold, the Government said yesterday.
The Government added it would not extend the consultation period on the changes — which ended on Sunday.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said: “In August of this year we undertook to conduct a comprehensive public consultation period on the Bermuda Health Plan.
“In the four months of open, transparent consultation over 50 meetings were held with over 600 participants.
“I am confident that this period has allowed ample time for the public to provide feedback on what the core insurance plan should include and how to transition to a more efficient health financing system.”
Pressure group Patients First and the Opposition have both criticised the proposed changes asked for more time to look at the plans.
But Ms Wilson said: “I appreciate that Patients First and the Opposition are asking for the Government to do a U-turn on its decision to adopt a unified model of health financing or a single payer system.
“Unfortunately, their campaign has deliberately misled the public with numerous misstatements, leading to confusion and fear.
“As a Government, we have to act in the best interest of the people and we have to make decisions that will benefit the whole of Bermuda not just those with vested interests.”
The Minister added the Progressive Labour Party had an electoral mandate to pursue universal health coverage and tackle the high cost of healthcare in Bermuda.
She said: “Bermuda is a small jurisdiction and our health financing system unduly complicated, expensive and unsustainable.
“We have to find ways to minimise co-payments, improve access to primary care, and offer benefits to restore people’s health and we are confident that simplifying our fragmented health system will help put us on the road to sustainability.
“Much work remains to be done on the Bermuda Health Plan and working groups will be set up to consider the public feedback and determine next steps.”
She was speaking after the One Bermuda Alliance asked Government to take a step back after concerns were raised over the plans.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Shadow Minister of Health, said: “An Age Concern meeting on the health plan was left with standing room only and about 6,000 people have signed a petition against universal healthcare.
“The Minister insists that this is not rushed, and she has referred to a report which was done in a bipartisan way in 2012, thereby insinuating that the public has had seven years to digest this policy.
“The reality is that the report was not a bipartisan report, it was a sub-committee report issued by interested stakeholders. There were no public meetings explaining the changes or their impact on the public.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “The OBA supports healthcare reform because 60,000 people spending $700 million a year is not sustainable, but clearly Bermudians are very concerned about Government’s plan and it must put it on hold until more details such as a true cost and details of all benefits are available.”
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