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OBA asks for update on proposed national health plan

Cole Simons, the Opposition leader (File photograph)

The Opposition yesterday asked the Government to provide more information about a proposed National Health Plan.

Cole Simons, the Opposition leader, said that the focus for the past 18 months had been on the Covid-19 pandemic, but that updates on the future of the island’s healthcare system were needed.

Mr Simons said: “If this pandemic has taught us anything at all, it is that we cannot take our eye off the ball and that everyone should have access to basic healthcare, and that no one should be impoverished by the cost of coverage.”

He added that the cost of healthcare on the island had risen by 193 per cent over the past 15 years and Bermuda’s healthcare costs per head were among the highest in the world.

But Mr Simons said: “Despite the high spending, our current healthcare doesn’t provide coverage for the entire population.

“Approximately 10 per cent of people have no health insurance and, due to the economic impact of the pandemic, that number is constantly rising, whereas most high-income countries spend far less than we do on healthcare and provide access for everyone.

“The present system has not been able to slow down the rise in costs, and it is unaffordable for people with low earnings, which has now been exacerbated by increased unemployment.”

Mr Simons added the standard health benefit covered sick or chronically ill people, but did not cover preventive medical care.

He highlighted that the island’s ageing population threatened to stretch the healthcare system’s resources even more and increase demand for at-home caregivers.

But Mr Simons said: “There is no central registry for professional caregivers who support seniors in their homes.

“There is a lack of clearly defined regulations for professional caregivers.

“The average cost per month for a caregiver for personal home care is approximately $5,000, while the monthly cost for care per person in a senior residence can be up to $12,000.”

Mr Simons said if the OBA was in power, it would develop an “evidence based” national healthcare plan managed by independent professionals and create a “unique patient identifier” to make healthcare services more efficient.

He added: “It will assist in services being streamlined and produce a true number of those that are uninsured or underinsured to develop solutions to reduce this figure.”

Mr Simons said the OBA would also create a national physical fitness programme to encourage healthy living and beef up regulations for caregivers with the creation of a central registry of qualified staff.

He added the OBA would legislate on mental health insurance so insurance companies would “cover it in the same way as medical coverage and not offer lesser coverage for mental health services”.

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Published August 10, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated August 10, 2021 at 7:37 am)

OBA asks for update on proposed national health plan

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