Minister says cost and details of universal healthcare cover still to be worked out
The promotion of healthy lifestyles and preventive care are “front and centre” of the Government’s new health plan, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, told MPs the two elements were a key part of a five-year blueprint to improve the island’s health and healthcare system.
She said: “We know that health promotion and disease prevention are essential ingredients in building a stronger health system.
“In the coming months, we will be joining forces with other healthcare and community stakeholders to ensure this message is amplified and reaches all segments of our Bermuda population.”
Ms Wilson added: “Many of the chronic illnesses impacting our community and placing a heavy burden on our healthcare resources are strongly related to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity and smoking.
“We understand that more must be done to empower and support people to lead healthy lifestyles and we will do that.”
Ms Wilson said good mental health was also vital to the wellbeing of the country.
She added: “There is a recognised need to challenge historical stigma and preconceptions.
“Good physical and mental health are collectively a part of our efforts to promote wellness and healthier living.”
Ms Wilson said that the Bermuda Health Strategy 2022-2027 showed the Government’s commitment to universal health coverage, to make sure that essential benefits are available to all “through the Bermuda Health Plan, within a stronger, more sustainable healthcare system”.
Michael Dunkley, the shadow health minister, asked how much was paid so far to professional services firm KPMG for its work with the Ministry of Health to help to develop the strategy.
Ms Wilson said that she did not have the figure in front of her but would get it and that it would also be included in Budget information.
But she added: “I believe the fees paid to date are in the public domain as it was a question that was answered by the former Minister of Finance a few weeks ago with respect to KPMG’s expenses.”
Mr Dunkley asked Ms Wilson how universal access to healthcare coverage would be achieved, who would pay for it and what the involvement of insurance companies would be.
Ms Wilson highlighted the need to tackle unsustainable healthcare costs as well as the need to improve people’s health.
She said that “answers to questions such as the cost and/or the particulars” of universal healthcare coverage were “still matters that have to be considered”.
Ms Wilson added that it was also important to get involvement from others, including medical professionals, patient representatives, insurance companies and the international business sector.
She told MPs: “We will be looking to provide essential care to individuals at a cost that can be obtained as well as when it is needed.
“However, we have always maintained that there will always be a need for supplemental insurance so the insurance companies will still be able to offer a supplemental benefit.”
She said that it was still to be determined who would pay for the essential care package.
Ms Wilson was asked if the Government would control the essential level of insurance provision.
She said: “Again, those are matters that need to be determined following a collaborative approach.”
But Ms Wilson added: “It’s not envisioned that this will be a Government-run programme.”
She said it was too early to give “concrete answers” about who would run essential benefits under universal healthcare coverage.
* To read the minister’s statement in full, or to see the Bermuda Health Strategy 2022-2027, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”.