Health Minister On FutureCare

February 6, 2012

Speaking on Friday in the House of Assembly, Minister of Health Zane DeSilva said that “Government was transparent in how it developed and rolled out FutureCare.”

“On 8th December, 2011, the Health Insurance Department issued a detailed press statement on FutureCare co-payments for local specialist care, in which the Director of the Department acknowledged and apologized for the fact that the introduction of the latest co-payments had not been properly communicated,” said Minister Desilva,

“The Director also pledged to ensure that policy holders were informed in writing – and this has been done. Now, today, Senator Dunkley seems surprised that the Director has written to policy holders.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, late last year the Opposition and the Government spent many hours going back and forth about FutureCare.

We argued over the cost of premiums, the sustainability of the Fund, the benefit package, and the way that FutureCare was implemented.

I presented a long Ministerial Statement which set out the history of FutureCare, the public consultation that had taken place, and the way in which this insurance plan was implemented in phases.

In the run-up to Christmas, Senator Dunkley raised questions in the Senate about when the Government would provide FutureCare policy holders with a detailed explanation about the implementation of co-payments for care provided by surgeons and other specialists.

Mr. Speaker, on 8th December, 2011, the Health Insurance Department issued a detailed press statement on FutureCare co-payments for local specialist care, in which the Director of the Department acknowledged and apologized for the fact that the introduction of the latest co-payments had not been properly communicated. The Director also pledged to ensure that policy holders were informed in writing – and this has been done.
Now, today, Senator Dunkley seems surprised that the Director has written to policy holders.

Mr. Speaker, let me take a few moments to comment on the statement released today.
Let me start with statements made by the Honourable Member opposite, Ms. Jackson.

Ms. Jackson said, on the record, that HIP coverage is better than FutureCare coverage.

This is clearly incorrect. The most cursory review of the benefit brochures on the Department’s website will show that.

In addition, Ms. Jackson raised the issue of the 25% co-payments for Overseas Care. She said this information was only in brochures from 2010, but that the wording was not in the first FutureCare brochures from 2009.

In this instance Ms. Jackson was partially correct, and I acknowledged that in the past. The 2009 brochure did not specify a 25% co-pay, but it did say that overseas care would be paid at rates approved by the Bermuda Health Council. It was also pointed out that from 2010 the Department sent its overseas care brochure to policy holders on several occasions.

Mr. Speaker, the OBA is claiming that FutureCare was irresponsibly launched in 2007 – but the product was not made available to the public until April, 2009.
Many of the points made in the statement about the origins of FutureCare have been previously addressed.
Government was transparent in how it developed and rolled out FutureCare. There was a full “Request for Proposals” process to select vendors for the design of FutureCare. There was a detailed one-year process of research, focus groups, data collection and actuarial analysis prior to launching FutureCare. All major local stakeholders were consulted.

Regarding implementation, there was a separate rigorous tender process that had been completed for the Health Insurance Department’s automated system. The system was implemented in stages just as FutureCare was implemented in stages. It was planned, systematic and the principle part of the system implementation was complete within 18 months.
Mr. Speaker, let me say a few words about financial viability.

It has been stated clearly that FutureCare is a plan that is subsidized by Government.

This has been no secret, and funds have been appropriated through the normal budget process for FutureCare since its launch. Amounts of $10 million, $8 million and $6 million were allocated as FutureCare capital injections in each of the three fiscal years since its inception – and these funds were approved by this Honourable House.

The plan is actuarially evaluated annually, and the premiums are set accordingly.

Like any other high risk insurance pool, the viability of the plan is linked to the level of premium, benefits and amounts of subsidy received.

This is being managed by technical officers with expert advice from the Fund’s Actuaries.
FutureCare is well capitalized.
Mr. Speaker, the Opposition speaks of a disconnect between the policy decision and the target population.
However, to date there have been merely a dozen calls from FutureCare policyholders over the letter sent out. None of the callers were upset or angry at the change. All of them understood the rationale for the co-payment and accepted it once they had the opportunity to pose their questions.

This is hardly a public outcry.
Moreover, since the co-payment for local specialist care was implemented in April 2011, the Opposition and a small number of doctors seem to be the only groups criticizing the move.

In fact, the Department has only received one complaint about the implementation of co-payments for local specialist care – and that was for a co-payment of $300.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is no scapegoat or forcing of any civil servant to write to FutureCare policyholders.

One only needs to examine the Department’s website to see the numerous letters sent directly to policyholders over the years advising them of various changes.

This is a normal part of the marketing and communications function within the Health Insurance Department, and it doesn’t stop there. Technical officers at the Department have presented at dozens of Town Hall meetings and other public meetings over the past three years reaching over 1,000 members of the public, and the Department continues to reach out directly to communicate with its policyholders.

Mr. Speaker, let’s remember that the total cost of Bermuda’s healthcare system is now over $630 million per year – and we have spent untold hours arguing over a piece of that system that accounts for only 1% of the total.
We have to provide adequate insurance coverage for our seniors and the rest of Bermuda’s residents, but we also have to address the unsustainable increase in the TOTAL cost of healthcare on this island.

And that, Mr. Speaker, is why the team in my Ministry is working so hard on the National Health Plan.
We are focused – not just on the pieces of the system but on the big picture, the whole system.

-

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (10)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bermyman says:

    Why is Zane DeSilva Health Minister!? What professional experience or background in anything health related does he have!?

    Housing, planning or transport I could understand because he knows construction and vehicles but Health!!!???

    Why do we have MP’s in positions of power making decisions when they don’t know anything about the subject area that they are in charge of!?

    • PEPPER says:

      Zane, has the position og health minister because his mate Brown wanted him to.

    • Rockfish#1 says:

      From payloader operator to Health Minister!
      Bermuda is another world.

  2. Cancer says:

    I tell you boy…. This government ain’t got a clue. I wish someone would tell me why everytime PLP rolls out a policy it’s always a flop! Is this why their called the flip flop party or is it because one day it’s this this way – then the next day it’s that way. I guess the answer is anyone’s guess.

  3. navin johnson says:

    He is the 6th Health Minister in the last 7 years or is it the 7th in the last 6th years….And what do brains or qualifications have to do with it? he is good value for money…..

    • PEPPER says:

      Zane, is a horrible person … …..no wonder he is the best friends with Brown and Cox ….. on another note our queen has been in power as of today for 60 years…

  4. My two cents says:

    Cringe worthy.

  5. ABC says:

    enough zane desilva or u be de next 1 get exposed OK

    EXPLAIN HOW BERMUDIAN HAD THEIR SURGERY CANCEL AND FORIGENIER GET FIRST PRIOTY OVER WHAT U KISSIN ASS 2 DE WRONG PEOPLE

    IF I WERE U I WOULD SHUT DE F… UP

    U ……………

  6. Cancer says:

    Zane is ridiculous and hopelessl. He shud stick to building houses!