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Means test FutureCare UBP’s Louise Jackson

Rich residents, one living in Tucker's Town, are paying just $384 a month for Government's subsidised health insurance plan for the elderly, Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson has claimed.

Mrs Jackson, who has been a long-time critic of the plan, reiterated her call for FutureCare to be means-tested to ensure a more fair payment plan than the current system. She said means testing would also help make the plan more sustainable.

Mrs Jackson spoke out after Health Minister Zane DeSilva announced Government would be increasing the premiums of FutureCare this fiscal year.

In 2009 former Health Permanent Secretary Warren Jones said the first phase of the plan would be for seniors already on Government's basic Health Insurance Plan (HIP), or those who legally qualify for financial assistance, because they “have the greatest need”.

In total 2,681 seniors were a part of the first phase and paid $260 a month for the plan.

But Mrs Jackson said many people in the first phase joined HIP shortly before FutureCare was implemented solely because they found out about the roll-out date and wanted to save money, not because they were poor.

“People who found out about it signed up for HIP before the rest of the public knew about it,” Mrs Jackson claimed. “A number of people who are involved in the first phase are not poor or vulnerable.

“I know a woman living in Tucker's Town who is on the first phase, she is not poor at all!

“It has got to be means tested as it is not fair.”

Mrs Jackson declined to name rich individuals who were on the first phase of the plan.

Earlier this month it was announced that seniors who joined the first phase would now pay $384 a month for the health-care package.

In April last year an additional 5,471 seniors became eligible to join FutureCare. This group was told they must pay $600 a month for the same benefits as those in the first phase. However, less than 300 people joined the second phase.

Starting tomorrow all seniors will be eligible to join FutureCare, and those who are a part of phase two and three will be required to pay $635 for the same benefits as those involved in phase one.

Two years ago when FutureCare was unveiled Mrs Jackson complained that it had been poorly advertised.

Government officials said they did not announce the caveat that only seniors on HIP would be admitted to the first phase of FutureCare in order to limit the initial intake to those with the greatest need.

At the time Mr Jones also stated there had been no change to the average monthly enrolment of seniors into HIP in the four months prior to the announcement.

The Royal Gazette was unable to reach the director of the Health Insurance Department for comment yesterday.

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Published March 31, 2011 at 10:15 am (Updated March 31, 2011 at 10:14 am)

Means test FutureCare UBP’s Louise Jackson

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