Senate approves increased mandatory health premiums
Higher mandatory health insurance premiums were approved by the Upper House yesterday.
Senators approved the Health Insurance Amendment Act introduced to the chamber by Arianna Hodgson, the junior health minister.
Marcus Jones, an Opposition senator, asked if the Government had an estimate of what had been spent to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and a prediction on how premiums could be affected over the next few years.
Ms Hodgson said that every ministry had been forced to shoulder Covid-19 costs.
She added: “When we look at increased utilisation and we look at inflation and we look at the need for increased medical treatment, it is inevitable that the need is going to rise and that the costs associated are going to rise with it.
“While we don’t like to see ourselves burdening anyone with further costs, additional benefits do require additional finance.”
Robin Tucker, the shadow social development and seniors minister, said the One Bermuda Alliance supported the bill.
But she added there were concerns about increased healthcare costs for the elderly.
Some of the extra cash will be used to support extra prescription drug benefits and a maternal health programme for uninsured women.
There will be a $45 a month hike in the Standard Premium Rate – a 13.6 per cent increase.
The extra money will cover “a new reduced insured headcount” to ensure the Bermuda Hospitals Board meets its revenue target, as well as continued treatment for kidney disease patients and a new maternity care benefit for uninsured women.
There will also be $30 a month increase on the HIP premium – a 6.9 per cent rise and a $30 a month increase in the FutureCare premium – up by 6 per cent.
But people on both schemes will get improved prescription drug benefits of a $1,000 increase to $3,000.