Views on healthcare reform imminent
The views of organisations that commented on proposed reforms to healthcare financing are expected to be made public in the next few weeks.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, told MPs a task force set up to review two options first presented six years ago was to provide her with its views in the near future.
The Minister of Health said it looked at the 2012 Report on a Health Financing Structure, which studied ways to improve healthcare financing and make it more efficient.
In the earlier study, options were assessed based on a number of criteria, including their capacity to pool risk, financial strength, sustainability and ability to contain healthcare costs.
At that time, it was thought that for a package of about $450 a month, an individual could be covered for local hospital treatment as well as some primary, long-term, overseas and dental care.
Ms Wilson took the House of Assembly floor on Friday during a debate on the Throne Speech, which revealed her ministry wanted to develop a national health plan that will put everyone in Bermuda into either one or two health insurance pools.
She explained that a “health financing reforms stakeholder consultation group” had been established that included Bermuda First, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the Bermuda Diabetes Association, insurers, health professionals and international business.
Ms Wilson explained: “Their mandate was to review the health financing options report and to provide the views of their stakeholder group on those two options.
“They also had the benefit of health economists to provide further overviews and further information if they so required it.
“I’m glad to say that the two-month process of their meetings has concluded, I’m expecting to receive a report from them probably within the next couple of days.”
She said the group’s task was not to reach a joint position but to provide “different and rich viewpoints so that we could consider all of the options” and that MPs would hear more on the matter “in due course”.
The Throne Speech also announced the Government would consult on the extension of paid maternity leave from eight weeks to 13.
Ms Wilson said the consultation would allow the views of small businesses and others to be heard.
However, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister, said an extension to maternity leave could be used by unscrupulous employers to target women.
She explained: “We live in a misogynistic society and I would just hate for executives, HR people who are responsible for hiring to fulfil certain requirements in their company for employees, to decide that they start to discriminate ... you might find that HR person is saying, ‘I’m not going to hire that lady because in my estimation she’s of child-bearing age’, and they don’t want to run the risk of saying that perhaps we might find ourselves in a situation of having to provide maternity leave for this young woman.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added it was important to consider the cost of healthcare provision alongside premium rates.
The One Bermuda Alliance MP added: “We cannot effectively manage healthcare if we don’t look at both together.”
Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, earlier proposed a public register to track the extent to which health services are used in a bid for “a more transparent and meaningful conversation” about which services are “overutilised”.