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Minister: No shifting of FutureCare cost burden

Health Minister Patrice Gordon Pamplin refuted suggestions that FutureCare costs were being shifted onto lower-income policy holders.

And she attacked the former administration for draining the consolidated fund, making it more difficult for Government to improve benefits.

“Had there been money left in the consolidated fund by the previous administration that would have enabled additional benefits to be offered to all FutureCare clients, that would have been the first order of business,” she said.

“The prescription benefits had not been amended by the prior administration, notwithstanding the contention of the former Minister that benefits were running out.

“This OBA administration will re-evaluate the shabby treatment meted out to our seniors under the former administration and adjustments will be made based on actuarial extrapolations, which will include sustainability considerations.”

The comments came in response to parliamentary questions, put forward by Shadow Minister for Health and Seniors Zane DeSilva.

Mr DeSilva asked on July 3 what the effect of shifting the cost of premiums for the programme from high-income Bermudians to low-income Bermudians, if the Ministry is opposed to means testing and if prescription benefits would be improved.

In a written response issued on Friday, Ms Gordon Pamplin said the cost of FutureCare was not being forced on lower-income policy holders.

“When the higher FutureCare premium was instituted, there was no differentiation with respect to ability to pay, as the previous administration never implemented means testing,” she said.

“Those who signed on to FutureCare in the second and third tranche paid $600 irrespective of their ability to pay. There is therefore no evidence to support the statement that premium has been shifted from higher-income Bermudians to lower-income Bermudians, as both demographics would have been included in the first tranche as well as the second and third.

“It is incorrect to suggest that those who paid the higher premium on the second and third intakes were financially better off than those who were included in the first intake because the previous administration made no distinction.”

She also said the Government has no objection to means testing, but a proper structure must first be developed and put in place for such a scheme to be viable.

FutureCare was first launched in April 2009 with a premium of $260, with only those enrolled in the existing Health Insurance Programme (HIP) and over the age of 65 eligible, along with seniors deemed to be “indigent”.

In 2010 FutureCare became a two-tier programme, with early adopters paying a premium of $300, while those who joined the programme later paid a premium of $600. Premiums rose to $375 for the first phase and $635 for the second and third phases in 2011.

Earlier this year Government announced that it would end the two-tier structure and implement a single premium of $440 for all customers — a cost cut for some but an increase for others.

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Published July 16, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 16, 2013 at 2:29 am)

Minister: No shifting of FutureCare cost burden

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