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Health insurance premiums set to rise by 7.7%

Standard Premium Rates (SPR) for health insurance will rise by 7.7 percent, or around $19 per month according to draft regulations approved in the House of Assembly.

While Health Minister Zane DeSilva said the increase was lowered through the capping of expenditure, Opposition MPs said they were left “shooting in the dark” because of a lack of information.

Speaking on the Draft Health Insurance Standard Hospital Benefit Regulations, Mr DeSilva told the House that the minimum insurance rate would increase from $252.27 per month to $271.61 per month.

He explained that an annual actuarial report had suggested a nearly 19 percent increase, which would have resulted in monthly bills of $299.42, but given the current economic climate the Ministry fought for a way to lower that.

By capping some expenses, he said the Ministry was able to produce a significantly lower increase that would be sustainable.

Responding to the legislation, OBA Minister

Louise Jackson said the opposition had no access to the actuarial report, leaving them in a difficult position.

“We’re left shooting in the dark,” she said. “We are listening to the Minister, but we’re not seeing anything.”

She also noted that the $19 increase could still cause hardship for some, saying: “Most people are really struggling to get their health insurance paid. A rise of $19 may not be much for some people, but it’s very hard for others.”

Fellow opposition MP

Dr Grant Gibbons meanwhile expressed concern that by limiting cost increases Government could be causing even higher bills down the line as redevelopments at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital continue.

“What we really want to hear is that this Minister is actually going after cost increases instead of just having a cap on it,” he said.

The rate, which has increased by more that 12.6 every year between 2004 and 2010, increased by 6.8 percent last year.

The rate covers the minimum healthcare package, the standard hospital benefit. All employers in Bermuda are legally required to provide this level of health insurance to employees and non-working spouses and to cover at least half the cost of the insurance.

Most employers offer benefits well in excess of the minimum, and all insurance companies offer more than just the minimum benefits, but it is up to the individual insurance company how much they charge for coverage above the minimal level.

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Published March 06, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated March 06, 2012 at 8:55 am)

Health insurance premiums set to rise by 7.7%

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