Income tax won’t be used to fund health insurance system, says Attride-Stirling
Income tax will not be created to fund changes to the health insurance system the Bermuda Health Council CEO said yesterday.
Jennifer Attride-Stirling told Hamilton Rotarians yesterday the National Health Plan proposals do not outline how reforms within health care will be implemented, but added: “Some people are saying this means income tax, that the plan will lead to income tax. It will not.”
Dr Attride-Stirling outlined some of the proposed changes. She said Government hoped to extend the Standard Hospital Benefit (SHB) plan without increasing the cost.
In 2009 health care in Bermuda cost $5,557.8 million, with the private sector paying 72 percent of that cost and Government 28 percent. Dr Attride Stirling said the changes would alter how health care was paid for, not the total amount paid out for health care.
“Other countries manage to provide health coverage for their people without spending more than us,” she noted.
The BEC believes an improved SHB plan will help reduce long-term costs to Bermuda's health care system because it will lead to healthier people, earlier detection and proper utlisation of available resources.
She said the plan was a consultation paper and that nothing was set in stone. She said the improved SHB plan could be means tested and expanded on some of the options.
“It's not going to be income tax,” she reiterated. “We could have different categories for different sectors of the adult population.
“It could be, for employed people, that they pay eight percent of their salary. I say eight percent only as an example, not as the figure that has been chosen. Currently we spend approximately eight percent of Bermuda's GDP on health care. We spend about four percent of GDP on health premiums. So the eight percent, isn't an exact number, it is to give you an idea about where it could be. It could be six percent.
“For people who are self employed we could follow a salary table to determine how much they pay.
“For people who are not working we could use something like land evaluation or land tax to determine how much they pay.
“These are examples, they have not been decided. We want people to come forward with their ideas and suggestions.”
The National Health Plan, unveiled in February by Government, aims to ensure all residents have quality, affordable healthcare. The plan sets out 11 health sector goals to improve access, quality and efficiency, which will be implemented over the next two to six years. The full plan can be read at www.bhec.bm