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Minister announces rises in health insurance premiums

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Increases are planned for mandatory health insurance premiums in line with “current market realities”, legislators heard yesterday in the House of Assembly.

The higher rates will support extra prescription drug benefits and a health programme for uninsured women.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, also cited the cost of care for a steady yearly rise in the island’s numbers of dialysis patients.

Bermuda’s hospital has been hit with reduced revenue on top of extra costs from fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Wilson said there had been a drastic fall in the number of insured workers enrolled in the standard premium rate, which she ascribed to “unemployment or emigration”.

The SPR’s revenues were set at just over 49,000 adults for the past two years, but the figure had slumped to a reported 46,181 this May.

Ms Wilson announced a $45 hike planned for the monthly payment for the SPR – a 13.6 per cent rise.

It will cover “a new reduced insured headcount” to ensure the Bermuda Hospitals Board meets its revenue target.

She said it would also support continued treatment for kidney disease patients, where numbers of dialysis patients are said to be rising by 10 to 15 per cent annually.

The SPR increase will additionally go towards “a new maternity care benefit for uninsured women which will secure more equitable access, regardless of income, insurance or social status”.

There is also a $30 monthly increase planned for the Health Insurance Plan premium – a 6.9 per cent rise.

It will be accompanied by a new prescription drug benefit covering 100 per cent of costs up to $1,000 in a policy year.

Ms Wilson announced a $30 monthly increase in the FutureCare premium, up by 6 per cent.

The move will come with an increase in the existing prescription drug benefit of $1,000, taking it from $2,000 to $3,000.

Both programmes have seen new clients sign up – a change Ms Wilson said came in part from people dropping expensive private plans in favour of HIP.

An ageing population continues to increase clients using FutureCare.

Ms Wilson said the Government’s work on universal health coverage was ongoing.

She added: “We anticipate that, before the end of this year, we will be setting out the steps we have agreed with stakeholders from across the system to start this journey afresh.”

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Published September 11, 2021 at 7:57 am (Updated September 11, 2021 at 7:56 am)

Minister announces rises in health insurance premiums

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