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Health steering committee ‘completely and utterly non-partisan’

Kirsten Beasley sat on the Universal Health Coverage steering committee (File photograph)

A member of a steering committee involved in the Government’s plans for universal health coverage said that the group was impartial and had “robust, open” talks.

Kirsten Beasley highlighted that everyone on the island has an interest in strengthening Bermuda’s healthcare system.

The steering group’s work helped to develop the Bermuda Health Strategy 2022-27.

Ms Beasley said: “It’s probably one of the more rewarding committees that I’ve sat on for a number of reasons.

“It was completely and utterly non-partisan.”

Ms Beasley said that talks had no predetermined conclusions.

She added: “It was a robust, open discussion … it was a group of very committed individuals so there was a great deal of passion around the table but it was collaborative passion.

“Where there was divergence of views, it was noted and discussed and not all of them were resolved.”

Ms Beasley was on the steering committee because she is a board member at Bermuda First, an advisory organisation that includes healthcare as one of its three main areas of focus.

She said: “The whole community has a stake in getting better value from our healthcare system … but we haven’t approached this with ‘we know everything and we understand all the issues’.”

Ms Beasley added that the group tried to keep their thinking broad and other people will be able to highlight anything that has not yet been considered.

She said: “We have to make sure that everyone is on board with what the goal is.”

Ms Beasley, who runs the Bermuda office of an international reinsurance company and is its North America head of healthcare broking, added: “We view this as a country-level decision. Everybody that I talk to realises this is a countrywide decision.

“This isn’t about one particular party, any one view and that’s why the engagement has been so robust.

“It has been great to participate in.”

She explained: “The goal of universal health coverage is to come up with a mandated basket of essential services.

“Right now we have a basket of mandated services.

“The Standard Premium Rate and Standard Health Benefit are at the core of every insurance product on island, but all of those are at the treatment phase.”

She suggested that the mandated basket of essential services under UHC could include preventive measures, such as primary care and educating people about being healthy, to address concerns before they become major health problems.

Ms Beasley explained that some of the work will involve mapping out a patient’s journey “looking for redundancies, looking for opportunities to streamline and create efficiencies”.

The Government’s health strategy showed that 12 per cent of the population is uninsured and about 23 per cent are either underinsured — when someone has health insurance but the package does not cover everything they need, or has defined unaffordable health insurance — where people struggle to pay health insurance premiums, co-pays or both.

Ms Beasley said: “To me, that’s a key piece of why universal healthcare is critical for the island.”

She added that UHC was just one element of the Government’s plans to try to strengthen the health system overall.

Ms Beasley said: “We don’t eke the value out of our health system that we should. We are not getting the outcomes for the money that we’re spending.”

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Published March 18, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated March 18, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Health steering committee ‘completely and utterly non-partisan’

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