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Healthcare financing reform on the way

Costly care: the Bermuda Government is planning reform of heathcare financing

By April, Government is expected to announce its plans for reforming the way that healthcare is financed in Bermuda.

The Health Financing Reform Steering Committee has, since June of last year, been consulting with stakeholder bodies about two financing options. The committee has been tasked with delivering a programme that provides affordable and sustainable healthcare for all Bermuda residents.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, last year said that the cost of the island’s minimum health package was shared across 48,000 insured people in Bermuda. However, supplementary benefits are shared across much smaller groups, leading to greater healthcare costs for treatment covered thereunder.

By expanding the proportion of healthcare that is protected by the larger risk pool, she said, healthcare costs can be stabilised. Under the reforms, she said, the cost of healthcare “will be better than what most people pay for this level of coverage today”.

Referring to medical care inflation of about 6.4 per cent in Bermuda, Ms Wilson said: “There were no fee increases and only negligible benefit changes. So the only reason the premium for the minimum package increased is because our people are sicker, older and receiving more healthcare.”

The island’s Fiscal Responsibility Panel observed: “Regardless of which of the two financing proposals is adopted, Bermuda’s healthcare system needs to address: how to ensure any government subsidies are used most productively and fairly directed; how to ensure resources for healthcare in the economy are used effectively and with effective control of costs; and how to ensure that healthcare is at least accessible to all Bermuda’s citizenry.”

According to the report, Bermuda’s Population Projections, 2016-2026, released last year:

• Average household spending on healthcare was $7,000 in 2004, a 156 per cent increase on the amount spent in 1993 that was well in excess of the 32 per cent rate of inflation for the same period.

• By 2013, the amount each household spent on healthcare was roughly $10,300, a 47 per cent increase on 2004. The rate of inflation during the same period was 30 per cent.

• In 2013, households headed by seniors spent $10,919 per year on healthcare, up from $6,000 in 2004. Some 76 per cent of that expenditure was comprised of health insurance.

According to the 2018 National Health Accounts Report, released last week by the Bermuda Health Council, the total public and private expenditure neared $723 million for the fiscal year 2016-17. That was a dramatic increase on the total expenditure of $460 million for the fiscal year 2006-07.