Video: Charities On Healthcare Cost Concerns

June 8, 2015

Charity groups convened in a press conference today [June 8] to highlight their concerns about the cost of healthcare, saying they are “asking for a freeze on all legislative changes to healthcare provision and coverage until there has been substantive community input.”

Representatives from Age Concern Bermuda; the Interagency Committee for Children and Families, the Centre on Philanthropy, and the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre gathered today at Charities House supported by other helping agencies, such as the Family Centre and PRIDE Bermuda and the patients and consumers being effected by recent changes.

A spokesperson said, “The group of charities assembled to bring attention to their concerns over healthcare insurance costs that are becoming increasingly unstainable for consumers. The group provided several examples of how Bermudians of all ages are being negatively impacted by healthcare coverage costs and trends.”

Charities Healthcare Concerns Bermuda, June 8 2015-1

Chairperson of Age Concern’s Advocacy Committee, Charles Jeffers explained, “With regard to impact to senior citizens tremendous strain was being felt with respect to the costs of GEHI to a non-employed spouse [typically a widow or widower], has risen to $494.02 per month or $114 per week and is set to rise again by almost $100 more in January 2016.

“Likewise, Future Care premiums are also set to rise by July 1st 2015. As it stands, FutureCare premiums are $450 per month. According to the 2010 Census the median pension is $1283 per month or $296 per week in social insurance income which leaving an average of about $200 per week left for the average pensioner subscribing to FutureCare or GEHI to live on after health insurance coverage alone.

“For some pensioners, health insurance coverage consumes their entire pension.”

“Mrs. Kathleen Brangman provided her story as a case example. The recent changes in GEHI coverage has resulted in Mrs. Brangman having only $68 a month left over after health insurance coverage deductions.

“The Interagency Committee for Children and Families also indicate that meeting the cost of healthcare can be just as bleak for children and families, according to Program Coordinator, Nadine-Lapsley Dyer. “We have been made aware that as of July 1, there will be an increase in private sector insurance premiums.

“The Mutual Reinsurance Fund [MRF] tax has increased from $29.18 per insured per month in 2014/15 to $63.74 per insured per month in 2015/16. The MRF is a mandatory tax that is collected on health insurance premiums and paid to Government. The SHB premium has increased from $301.85 in 2014/15 to $338.07 in 2015/16 an overall increase of 12% inclusive of the Government tax.

“This is very concerning, given the impact of our current economic climate on families. According to the 2013 Household Expenditure Survey, the average annual household expenditure increased by 18% from 2004 to 2013, including utilities costs, health care, and housing.

“In 2013, the average family spent $10,300 a year on health care, and health insurance accounted for $7,644, or 74% of this expenditure. Notwithstanding government insurance premiums, which do not always provide adequate upfront coverage, the average single parent will pay private insurers up to $1,300 per month for health insurance.

33 minute video of the full press conference today

“Next to housing, health care costs continue to be the 2nd highest increased cost for families in household expenditure. These increases will ultimately result in unfairly asking families to choose between putting food on the table and taking care of the health and well-being of themselves and their children.”

“Shirlene White of the Centre on Philanthropy described how many of the island’s local charities are in danger of reducing staff or closing their doors to the public altogether due to a range of increased fees and taxes being introduced this year. Health insurance increases this year due to Government taxes are among the largest of all increases.

“As mentioned the recent increases of the MRF tax has increased from $29.18 per insured per month in 2014/15 to $63.74 per insured per month in 2015/16. The Standard Hospital Benefit has also increased from $301.85 in 2014/15 to $338.07 in 2015/16, an overall increase of 12% which will mean that a charity having 2 or more employees will pay in excess of $1,714.00 per month in health coverage costs.

“These increases are in addition to other recent taxes and fees which include increased payroll tax, domain name registrations, and new registration fees introduced by the Registry General. This means that money intended by donors and the community to assist vulnerable people in the community is being absorbed by increased taxes and fees levied by the Government and other sources.

“Our membership of local charities have indicated that some of them may have to choose between letting staff go or paying insurance for the few staff that remain, all at a time when the demand for service is much greater.

“In fact, according to a recent survey of our membership, 65% of non-profits are experiencing an increase in demand for their programmes & services in spite of the need to downsize”. explained Ms. White.

“The Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre emphasized its commitment to work in partnership with the Bermuda Health Council, the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment and other charity agencies to find solutions for affordable and quality healthcare for our residence.”

Tara Soares, Executive Director, said, “The Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre provides over $200,000 a year to cover the cost of diagnostic imaging and early cancer detection for those who may not have health insurance or who’s health insurance does not cover certain procedures.

“The Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre supports early cancer detection as the best current option for catching diseases, such as cancer as early as possible, as it provides us with the best possible chance of curing cancer. The BCHC strongly believes that health screenings, such as mammograms and ultrasounds should be available to everyone regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.

“We see firsthand the struggles many in our community endure as a result of the high cost of healthcare,” Ms. Soares indicated.

“The helping service leaders indicated why they felt the urgent need to come together to draw the community’s immediate attention to the erosion of our access and ability to pay for quality healthcare.

Speaking on the group’s behalf, Charles Jeffers said, “We call on the Premier, Finance and Health, Seniors and Environment Minister to work swiftly toward ensuring that there is a healthcare safety net for Bermudians of all ages. We are asking for a freeze on all legislative changes to healthcare provision and coverage until there has been substantive community input on what constitutes basic and affordable healthcare coverage for Bermudians.

“We are asking for the institution of a task force that can effectively implement a National Healthcare Policy that addresses the provision of healthcare in a manner that Bermudians of all ages can access and afford, that best meets the needs of the people, as determined in consultation with the people, as a matter of urgency.

“We are asking the Government not to dismiss the call of its community.”

Mr. Jeffers indicated that the group was preparing a letter to the Premier asking for his assistance in the immediate addressing of these important community concerns.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Huh says:

    More fallout from the PLP’s 14 years of overspending, borrowing, bloating the Civil Service, anti-non-Bermudian attitudes/policies and building a Hospital we could never, never afford

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      You continue to re-write history while ignoring the present ;-)

      Pound for Pound the OBA has racked up more debt than the PLP during time served. They are proving in front of Your very eyes they are in way over their heads like the PLP were.

      It bothers me that people will continue to repeat things knowing they are not true. Painting a section of people in a negative light to further their own cause. FYI “Huh”, Hitler and his crew worked the same angle as You are doing now. :-(

      • 32n64w says:

        The ever-increasing debt is a direct result of the current Government having to feed the economic beast and related financial obligations of the former Governmnet compounded by a material reduction in revenue due to a much smaller tax paying base – which in turn is another adverse effect of the xenophobic PLP’s policy making efforts.

        The adverse economic tailwinds of the PLP continue to negatively impact our economy and its bothersome when their talking heads attempt to obfuscate that simple fact as it does a disservice to the voters and their children who suffer and will continue to suffer at the feet of the PLP and their poor leadership.

      • Anyone that has a successful business knew and knows, “money makes money”…Bermuda needs money like…yesterday :-(
        With such a large debt,(daily interest rates alone are astronomical) so where would you suggest getting the funds that are required if we’re to get out of this rut, join a cartel?

      • Huh says:

        PLP wrote the history. It bothers me that people like you choose to ignore that the main reason we have the out of control health care costs is the economic conditions created by the PLP. PLP drove people out of Bermuda hence reducing out health insurance base which means health insurance costs have to borne by a smaller population. Hence rate increases. PLP decided to build a fancy new hospital which is simply unsustainable. Hence higher insurance rates. During the boom years (created by external events 9/11 in 2001 and hurricanes Katrina, Wilma & Rita in 2005 both which created huge employment in the Insurance & reinsurance industry but had nothing to do with the PLP), the PLP did NOT recognize that they needed to be prudent with controlling public spending and costs. PLP thought they would never lose an election because their voter base would never leave them no matter what they did. If PLP had been re-elected in 2012 exodus of people that was already happening would have turned into a massive flood and we would now be in an economic depression with massive unemployment, out of control Govt debt, mortgage foreclosures, NO Americas Cup, no new hotels, mergers & acquisitions galore, empty homes & offices, social unrest….

  2. sonso says:

    Thanks PLP!!!!

    That $800m would come in handy right about now!

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      Truly You can not still be using that $800 million line, knowing that was cleared up.

      But I guess You too, don’t care about the truth being told.

      $800 million missing and NO ONE has been brought before the courts, even YOU can see that YOUR claim is FALSE ;-)

      • Zevon says:

        The $60m wasted on Grand Atlantic would come in handy now though, wouldn’t it.
        And the extra $20m that went missing on the golf course.

      • inna says:

        Well being as you cant handle the truth, wouldnt just 10% of that $800m come in handy? Or like Zevon says, even $60m would sure as chite help us out!

        The truth is that you dont want to hear the truth. Plain and simple. Healthcare is not the only industry suffering that could use a little boost from the govt coffers. Education is looking to consolidate schools. There is still a hiring freeze on all govt positions.

        But, i guess all this sounds just peachy to you! Keep calm and carry on.

  3. It’s absolutely amazing, we see more controversy surrounding “bras on 3 stooges” than on a more concerning subject as this…

  4. aceboy says:

    Yet people were out PROTESTING cost savings measures the other day.

    We were promised a HOSPITAL that would pay for itself. We now have an ACUTE CARE WING that a charity was set up to help pay for and which is now creating spikes in health care cost.

  5. Kim Smith says:

    I appreciate this group trying to stop this runaway train! We must all be aware that the face of medicine has changed. It is a BUSINESS and the goal of any business is to make money. In that pursuit a lot of people have to get paid and I personally resent the feeling I have that this huge increase in the MRF is mostly to fund the inefficiencies (dare I call it mismanagement?) with the hospital project… and the very high salaries in the executive office. Very pleased that this group are calling for light to be shined into the dark corners of this issue. Thank you!

  6. Legal Eagle says:

    Please stop the political distractions from this issue of crisis affecting us (especially unemployed/underemployed +seniors)-who will be unable to afford a persons MOST basic need–healthcare!! Govt, pls take the $$ from ‘non life essential’ things like sports/conferences etc that aren’t matters of life+death!! This IS an issue deserving Island wide protests!!