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Health insurance cost once we retire is too much to bear

Dear Sir,

I read your interview with Walton Brown in yesterday's paper (March 23) in which he calls on the consumer affairs department to tackle the island's banks and health insurance providers for “price gouging”.

The cost of private health insurance premiums on this island has got to be among the highest in the world. While one is working, it isn't a cost that is noticed, as it is among about four payroll deductions taken by an employer. With employers paying half, the sting is removed from the cost. But once we retire and the whole cost is on a pensioner's shoulders, the high cost becomes apparent.

Few can afford to continue with private insurance.

My retired husband and I are paying almost $19,000 per year for our insurance. And I know this is considerably less than most pay, unless they opt for the government plans, which do not give the same coverage.

Years ago, before employers were mandated by law to provide health insurance, companies would be put in their own company “group” by the insurance provider.

The annual medical costs of the subscribers in that group were spread over the group and the premiums were set accordingly.

This practice has carried on with mandatory coverage even though there are now thousands of people being insured: all of these people in these small “groups”. It seems to me that this works very well in the favour of the insurance companies.

Now just imagine if the Government mandated that each insurance company put all subscribers into one large group and spread the risk over thousands of premium payers. It seems clear to me that premiums would be greatly reduced across the board, as the risk is more spread.

If my thinking is wrong, I would like it explained. If my thinking is right, why doesn't the Government do us all a favour and tackle this issue?

PREMIUM PAYER

Walton Brown

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Published March 28, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated March 28, 2017 at 2:07 am)

Health insurance cost once we retire is too much to bear

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