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BHeC director upbeat public’s concerns can be addressed

Health stakeholders and members of the public have expressed concerns that timelines proposed in a Bermuda Health Council (BHeC) paper on insurance reforms may not be achieveable.

But according to executive director of BHeC, Jennifer Attride-Stirling, this concern “has been addressed” and changes moving forward in 2011 “were not those which raised significant objections in the consultation”.

Dr Attride-Stirling said the remaining reforms were “on hold pending the outcome of the National Health Plan, which now supersedes the insurance reforms”.

Last September, the council appealed to the public to provide feedback on a consultation paper entitled “Enhancing the Regulatory Framework for Health Insurers”; which proposed to reform health insurers regulations.

Overall, 24 people submitted their feedback for the paper, which is a “reasonable” amount, according to Dr Attride-Stirling.

“Due to the technical nature of the topic, there was much input from special interest groups, rather than from the lay public,” she said.

Of the responses, nine were fully supportive, nine were not supportive, two were mixed and four were neutral and did not take a position.

The submissions came from health insurance entities, business and public advocacy groups, members of the public and health professionals.

Some of those not supportive were concerned the reforms did not create incentives to adopt a healthier lifestyle, stated a report on feedback received.

Dr Attride-Stirling said last night: “The claim about incentives is not valid. Risk-rated insurance premiums don't create incentives for healthy behaviours, any more or less than proportional premiums.

“People don't eat more vegetables, exercise or avoid unsafe sex in order to keep their premiums low.

“In any insurance pool there'll be some who engage in healthy behaviours and some who don't, as happens currently within the nine insurance pools covering our small population.”

Other concerns were that the structure of the planned new standard health benefit might increase the overall cost of premiums; and that by eliminating current underwriting practices by health insurers and introducing proportional premiums it could lead to higher premiums and administrative costs.

However, those who expressed support praised the paper's efforts to increase transparency and fairness in health insurance; eliminate discriminatory practices by health insurers; and the benefits to the population of wider coverage.

They also looked at the benefits the reforms would have on people from lower income brackets in increasing access and affordability; the need to encourage wellness through any financing mechanism; and support for sustainability in the healthcare system.

Useful website: www.bhec.bm

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Published March 21, 2011 at 10:14 am (Updated March 21, 2011 at 10:13 am)

BHeC director upbeat public’s concerns can be addressed

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