Minister On Health Insurance Reform

November 11, 2011

Health Minister Zane DeSilva said no insured Bermudian should be denied medical treatment because they cannot afford upfront payments to care providers and reforms announced in the Throne Speech are intended to remedy the existing situation.

At a briefing to expand on Health Ministry programmes for the coming legislative session unveiled in the Throne Speech, Mr. DeSilva said insurance reform was a top priority.

“I was very pleased to see our insurance reform which focuses on the prohibition of up front payments for medical treatment so warmly received when it was read in the Throne Speech.

What this initiative means is that no insured person should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford to pay the healthcare provider up front and then wait to be reimbursed by the insurer,” he said.

The Minister said two meetings have already been held with insurers and health service providers, and there has been broad support for this reform.

“Issues have been identified, but insurers, providers and Government have pledged to work together to overcome the issues,” he said, adding legislation is already being prepared which will turn this proposal into a reality.

The Minister also discussed other upcoming plans including legislation to ensure that elder abuse is properly prohibited, assessing whether or not the Government Clinics — East, West, Central – can be used to provide primary healthcare and transforming the Standard Hospital Benefit.

Minister DeSilva’s full statement is below:

Keeping on the theme of Seniors and how their needs are being addressed in the 2011 Throne Speech, I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about Seniors and Health Insurance Reform.

Seniors are a focus of the National Health Plan in conjunction with the National Ageing Plan.

Both Plans focus on healthy ageing and a continuum of care for seniors – moving from care at home (as long as practically possible) to assisted living, to residential care if necessary and, ultimately, to palliative and hospice care (residential hospice care as well as home hospice care).

In addition, we will review our legislation to ensure that elder abuse – whether physical, mental, or monetary abuse – is properly prohibited. And we will make sure that enforcement is possible and the penalties are in line with the offences.

I was very pleased to see our insurance reform which focuses on the prohibition of up front payments for medical treatment so warmly received when it was read in the Throne Speech.

What this initiative means is that no insured person should have to forego medical attention because they cannot afford to pay the healthcare provider up front and then wait to be reimbursed by the insurer.

Two meetings have already been held with insurers and health service providers, and there has been broad support for this reform.

Issues have been identified, but insurers, providers and Government have pledged to work together to overcome the issues.

Legislation is already being prepared which will turn this proposal into a reality.

Another part of the Throne Speech which will benefit the entire population, including Seniors is our National Health Plan goal of transforming the Standard Hospital Benefit to the Standard Health Benefit.

Currently every health insurance policy includes the Standard Hospital Benefit.

The Government controls the price of the SHB which includes all services provided at the Hospital – but no services outside the Hospital.

The intent is to re-design the benefit to include services provided at the Hospital and outside the Hospital – to produce the Standard Health Benefit.

Ultimately, we want a Standard Health Benefit that will be able to stand alone as a health insurance policy and provide the policy holder with viable health coverage.

How to pay for the new benefits will be taken on by the Finance and Reimbursement Task Group under the National Health Plan.

Finally, we will be assessing whether or not the Government Clinics – East, West, Central – can be used to provide primary healthcare.

Currently the Clinics provide care primarily to children, to pregnant women, to those travelling overseas who need immunizations, and to men and women who are dealing with sexually transmitted infections. Dental care is provided primarily to children, the Department of Corrections and Seniors.

We will look at several options including: using our Clinics to provide primary care; and can we use General Practitioners who are already established to provide care – with the patient receiving some form of Government assistance.

What we want to avoid in having Public Health become medical care for the poor.

We are excited about the initiatives we have in the works, and my whole team is already focused on making things happen.

Thank You.

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  1. Minister On Health Insurance Reform – Bernews | Health Tribune | November 11, 2011
  1. Hang up and call again says:

    OK, so the “Finance” Minister speaks of no delays to medical aide because of money – that’s fine, HOWEVER, given the incredibly slow response of reimbursement to the doctors, who should foot the bill? Put some meat to this bill and legislate that the process of insurance payout should be consistently timely or introduce some intermediary payment program because the frustration of doctors will invariably lead to a shortage of doctors in the long run. I’ve never heard of any other profession being expected to wait up to a year to be reimbursed.