DeSilva in talks to end ‘upfront payments’ for medical treatment
Government and insurance companies are working together to ensure people don’t put their health at risk because they can’t afford upfront payments.
Health Minister Zane DeSilva says meetings have already taken place to try to scrap upfront payments for medical treatment.
Mr DeSilva told a press conference: “Legislation is already being prepared, which will turn this proposal into a reality.”
The Minister pointed out that two meetings had been held and Government, insurers and health service providers had “pledged to work together to overcome the issues”.
Mr DeSilva said: “What this initiative means is that no insured person should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford to pay the healthcare provider up front and then wait to be reimbursed by the insurer.”
He added that he was pleased the insurance reform had received “broad support” and was so “warmly received” when it was read in the Throne Speech.
The Throne Speech, which was delivered by Governor Sir Richard Gozney, stated that upfront medical payments remained “a source of hardship”.
Earlier this week Jennifer Attride-Stirling, CEO of the Bermuda Health Council, told
The Royal Gazette that upfront payments were a problem for those with limited financial means.
She said: “We have been monitoring the practice and the recent health survey shows that people are having less screening and health checks … For some patients, the prospect of an upfront charge is enough to simply avoid the visit.”
As Mr DeSilva continued to highlight his Ministry’s Throne Speech initiatives, he said redesigning the standard hospital benefit would “benefit the entire population”.
The newly named standard health benefit, which is included in every health insurance policy, will include services both within and outside the hospital.
It comes as overseas care accounts for 15 percent of Bermuda’s total health expenditure, and this has increased by an annual average of 20 percent since 2004.
Mr DeSilva said: “We want a standard health benefit that will be able to stand alone as a health insurance policy and provide the policy holder with viable health coverage.”
Government controls the price of the standard health benefit and payments are currently under consideration as part of the National Health Plan.
The Health Ministry is also looking at whether government clinics can be used for primary care, including dentistry.
The clinics East, West and Central are currently only available to children, pregnant women, those needing immunisation and those with sexually transmitted diseases.
Mr DeSilva said: “We are excited about the initiatives we have in the works, and my whole team is already committed and focused on making things happen.”