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Seniors flock to hear about “health gap” insurance scheme

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A health insurance package aimed at seniors, designed to fill the gaps in their existing coverage, drew a keen and occasionally sceptical audience of 100 older residents yesterday.

The new product, known as HealthGap-AC, has been developed by MoonGate Insurance in tandem with seniors' advocates Age Concern.

Age Concern director Claudette Fleming said more than 60 percent of the Island's elderly now identify health costs as their top worry — and MoonGate CEO Leon Bascome had the palpable attention of a roomful of seniors as he prepared to give details on what HealthGap will be able to cover.

One senior told the audience she's currently paying out $2,606 per month for her Government-offered FutureCare.

Mr Bascome said HealthGap has been developed to augment existing policies — to cover procedures that don't currently fall under plans like FutureCare or HIP or that can leave patients with exorbitant co-pays to cover.

An air ambulance service is covered under HealthGap's $70-a-month payments, he said — and would be available up to any amount, from the first payment — under the insurer's partnership with Medical Air Services Association.

Under the package, Bermuda Optical Company offers discounts on glasses and eyewear; Ashlan Clinic is offering massage therapy; and North Shore Medical and Aesthetics is also partnered. So are Caesar's Pharmacy, Medical House and the medical alarm device service MediPendant, Equitable Life, and Fortress Accounts Receivables.

The Athletic Club signed up just on Tuesday to offer discount services, Mr Bascome added.

The insurance package is open to those aged 50 or older who have joined Age Concern.

Noting that many Bermudians seek treatment in costly traditional institutes on the US East Coast, Mr Bascome said the group PlacidWay would also assist with sourcing cheaper treatment elsewhere.

Health Minister Trevor Moniz told the gathering his Ministry “recognises the difficult economic times Bermuda faces and the difficult fiscal situation of Government finances”.

Mr Moniz said healthcare in Bermuda had grown “complex and fragmented”, as well as expensive.

Added Ms Fleming: “These are indeed interesting times in Bermuda — pockets are lean and budgets are mean. Healthcare costs have becomes a central focus of conversation and concern and rightly so.”

Healthcare spending in Bermuda is growing faster than the Island's GDP (gross domestic product), the cost of hospital claims is increasing and the insured population is decreasing, Ms Fleming said.

“Senior citizens have indicated that they are well aware of the cost of healthcare and its impact on financial well-being.”

The HealthGap package has been developed in consultation with Government's Health Insurance Department. Yesterday's four-hour session included PlacidWay CEO Pramod Goel, on how the company can offer medical tourism to Bermuda residents.

Other speakers include representatives from Medical Air Services Association, and Bermuda Health Council CEO Jennifer Attride-Stirling.

Speaking afterward, Cindy Swan, chairperson of the seniors' charity Project Action, gave the new proposal high marks.

“We're seeing many seniors that we serve through Project Action who aren't able to afford healthcare — they have to choose between their medication, their food or their rent,” she said.

Ms Swan said Mr Goel's presentation was well received.

“Physicians here tend to send people to the Lahey Clinic or Johns Hopkins, whereas his clients in the US are going worldwide, to India, Turkey and Central and South America. His reference was a $30,000 hip replacement in America versus maybe $7,000 elsewhere for the same care. I would like to see us using doctors in Cuba as well. That's thinking outside the medical box, because costs here are becoming prohibitive.”

(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Leon Bascome, president of MoonGate Insurance, speaks at the HealthGap-AC presentation.
(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Claudette Fleming, CEO of Age Concern, speaks at the HealthGap-AC presentation.

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Published March 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 9:22 am)

Seniors flock to hear about “health gap” insurance scheme

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