Dr Drew warns against limiting choice in healthcare
A US celebrity doctor who visited Bermuda this week highlighted concerns about the excessive centralisation of decision-making in healthcare.
Drew Pinsky added that it was important for patients to be informed and to have options for health coverage.
He was a keynote speaker at The Bermuda Healthcare Forum, which was held at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club on Wednesday and yesterday.
Dr Pinsky — widely known in the US as media personality Dr Drew — said: “My humble opinion is, every option should be on the table.
“But no one option should push out any others, people should have options.
“Of course there should be a single payer and of course there should be some sort of universal something and of course we should get everybody healthcare.
“But to do that to the exclusion of any other systems, again, this is now centralising everything and it makes me very, very nervous.”
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said earlier this year that the Bermuda Health Strategy 2022-2027 included one of the Government’s ambitions to make sure that “all people have equitable access to essential, affordable health services through universal health coverage”.
The island is expected to move towards a dominant payer system, where one organisation would supply the UHC package of essential benefits and supplemental health insurance could be bought from other insurers.
Dr Pinsky, an addictions specialist who has hosted television programmes and podcasts, said: “If people had options, then if they want to submit themselves to centralised decision-making, fine, I’ve no problem with that … as long as everyone’s eyes are open about what’s happening.”
He highlighted: “I’m not saying centralisation is the problem.
“I’m saying the problem is when academic authority becomes excessive, when dogma becomes excessive and when key players believe themselves to be on a holy mission, things go very badly, and it takes years to unwind it.”
He explained that centralising decisions meant taking them away from “the periphery, where the highly trained professional is supposed to be looking after the patient and bringing that decision-making into a central authority”.
Dr Pinsky said: “There’s nothing more efficient than a highly trained physician and a well-motivated and informed patient.”
He admitted it was “really hard” for people to become educated about how complex healthcare systems work.
But the doctor said: “Just know that healthcare is expensive. It just is. If you are paying very little for it, somebody is restricting access somewhere.
“That may fine, and if you have low risk or you don’t care or whatever, and that’s a decision that you like to make, then excellent.
“I don’t like that everybody has to go into the risk pool. It just doesn’t seem fair to me. People should be able to make their own choices.”
Amy Wolfinger, the chairwoman of the planning committee for the forum, said yesterday: “Some of Dr Drew’s opinions were quite controversial and provided our clients with an alternate point of view on centralised medicine.
“He definitely stirred up some thought-provoking conversations.”
She highlighted earlier that topics from speakers at the event covered “a wide range of potential solutions for complex problems that healthcare institutions are facing”.
Ms Wolfinger added that about 150 people attended the forum, including about 70 from overseas.
She said that the event, organised by a group of nine, demonstrated Bermuda’s "depth of knowledge and resources dedicated to the healthcare professional liability sector“.