Age Concern calls for help for seniors over health care costs
Age Concern today criticised Government for increasing the cost of health insurance and called for immediate help for seniors on the Island.
“It is with a great deal of disappointment and regret that we have heard the news that premium plans for FutureCare will rise from $600 to $635, and that Heath Insurance Plan (HIP) premium will also rise to $384 a month starting April 1,” said Executive Director of Age Concern Bermuda Claudette Fleming.
The Board of Directors of Age Concern Bermuda met recently to discuss the potential impact of the increases, particularly during the recession, and determined it could not support the increases. The meeting also agreed that Government should review the high cost of health care for seniors, particularly the costs of the FutureCare programme “that was designed among other things, to minimize health insurance costs”.
Ottiwell Simmons, Age Concern Board Director, said: “Surely we cannot ignore the cries of dissatisfaction from our ageing citizens.”
Mr Simmons urged that more effort be given to reducing the spectrum of healthcare costs experienced by seniors, including the provision of health care services rather than transferring the burden of payment onto seniors who are on fixed incomes.
Age Concern said it has received inquiries demanding that something be done about the extremely high cost of every aspect of health care and Age Concern Director and long-term insurance, Charles Jeffers said: “Our ageing population is seeking immediate help in this regard.
“The news of another increase, particularly during these challenging economic times is causing us to seriously question whether the current configuration of the FutureCare and HIP programs are sufficient enough to sustain the health and well-being of our seniors.
“I feel very passionately that we must implement a new and radical change in the provision of health care services and health care coverage in order to safeguard the health and financial well-being of everyone, especially our seniors.”
In a statement Age Concern said it “has been very gracious in its response to recent budget cuts for several ageing programs, including its own, in recognition of the dilemma that there is a shrinking tax base in which to support Government efforts”.
But the statement added: “However, we cannot seek to pay our current bills at the expense and health of our older citizens who have already provided so much to this country. A line must be clearly drawn between the optional and the essential.
“Affordable healthcare for seniors must remain an essential priority, to do anything less will equate to a significant failure of the Government to make good on its promise to our elders. We must honestly ask ourselves if the current state of affairs is honourable or acceptable.”