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Premium rate for health insurance increases

Outlining reasons: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, explained rise in cost

The standard premium for health insurance is to increase because demand for medical treatment has continued to rise.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the standard premium rate, mandated for all insurance packages, would go up by $21.31 to $355.31 per month.

The increase is in contrast to the $4 decrease put in place last year.

Ms Wilson said: “Increasing premiums is not something any Government does lightly. “However, we have seen significant increases in the use of services caused by the high incidence of chronic, non-communicable diseases and the ageing of our population.

“The sicker our people are, the more it costs to care for us, and the higher premiums become. It is a simple and preventable cycle we have to get out of.”

She was speaking as the House of Assembly debated the Health Insurance Amendment Act (No 2) 2018 last Friday.

The minister said the Bill included changes to the Mutual Reinsurance Fund and its coverage for kidney health.

The Bill will increase the coverage of kidney transplants from $100,000 to $150,000 to help more people get surgery.

Ms Wilson said Bermuda Hospitals Board fees will not increase this year.

Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the Opposition, said members of the public would be unhappy to see insurance costs increase.

She also asked the Government for updates on programmes designed to improve health, such as the enhanced care programme for people with chronic, non-contagious conditions.

Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of National Security, called the monthly cost increase “significant for anyone”.

Mr Dunkley said that the Progressive Labour Party’s General Election platform had pledged to reduce the cost of healthcare.

He added: “One of the first things that’s happened is the cost of healthcare has increased because the cost of insurance has increased. Where are seniors going to find that extra $21?”

The comment drew a point of order from David Burt, the Premier.

He said: “FutureCare is not going up, so there is no increase in health insurance rates for seniors.” He added it was “incredibly rich” to hear concerns from opposition members about the cost increase.

He added: “We are here because they received advice that they had to increase rates for utilisation and they ignored it. “So, when I hear a former premier say that ‘We will support the tough decisions’, I have a very simple question — why didn’t you make them?”

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin objected to Mr Burt’s statement.

She said: “To hear the Premier say that we didn’t want to make the tough decisions is not just disingenuous, it’s completely misleading.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “What I will not do is sit and listen to history be retold or reframed to suit the political narrative that the Premier wishes to advance.”