Standing room only at healthcare forum
Seniors and caregivers quizzed a panel of healthcare experts last night on proposed changes to the healthcare system.
A standing-room-only crowd turned out for the event organised by island charity Age Concern at the Salvation Army Citadel on North Street, Pembroke.
One audience member asked how money would be collected from people unable to pay for health coverage.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that people unable to pay for the Bermuda Health Plan would be able to make applications for financial assistance.
She said: “Moving forward, when we are able to start doing reforms with respect to the subsidies, then those same persons who are requiring assistance to help pay for their medical insurance will be subsidised.
Ms Wilson added: That process is obviously down the line.”
The minister was speaking at a meeting that also included Henry Dowling, the president of the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association, Michael Czerwinski, of Island Urology Services, Ricky Brathwaite, the acting chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council, Leon Bascome, the chief executive of the MoonGate Group, and nurse Anita Furbert as panellists.
Another audience member asked whether palliative care would be covered under the BHP.
Dr Brathwaite said that palliative care had been included as part of the Standard Health Benefit since 2016.
He added: “There is no intent to reduce the current set of benefits ... but actually just to enhance them.”
Another audience question asked about the estimated cost of the BHP.
Dr Brathwaite said that an estimate that listed a series of possible benefits had come up with a cost of $514 dollars for adults and $178 for children.
However, Dr Brathwaite added that estimated cost was only a part of the consultative process.
He said: “Without a price, it would be difficult to have a fulsome discussion.
“The price was added as well as the example benefits and that is part of the consultation process.”
One audience member asked the panellists what they were most concerned about by the move to the BHP.
Dr Dowling said that under the unified system of the BHP, a single organisation would control Bermuda’s healthcare system.
He added: “You remember when we had one telephone company that controlled our system. You remember when we had one system that did our internet.
“You remember how expensive those systems were. We don’t want to go backwards to when we had one organisation that controls our system.”
Dr Dowling said that the Government was “overrun with a financial burden that is going to be difficult to pay off in our generation, let alone out children’s”.
“We are concerned with our Government taking another service on that is going to be pushed generation after generation.”
He added that there were easier ways to reduce island healthcare costs “without the Government actually taking this on under their wing”.
Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern, said that the discussion around the proposed plan was as important as its implementation.
She added: “Citizens must know and understand the very significant step that our country is taking in addressing healthcare on the island.
“Citizens must also move into this process with their eyes wide open to the potential benefits they may receive — but also to the potential unintended consequences that may adversely affect them.”
Dr Fleming said that audience questions not put to the panellists would be submitted to the Government and the answers released later.
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