Employers expected to pay 50 per cent of new fee
Bahamians will be required to pay two per cent of their annual salaries for healthcare if the new proposed National Health Insurance plan is implemented, according to Dr. Robin Roberts, chairman of the National Health Insurance Authority Board (NHIA).
In total, each person will be expected to contribute $1,000 annually or $83 a month. However, Dr. Roberts said employers will be responsible for at least 50 per cent of that payment.
“The establishment of the employer mandate will require businesses and employees to share the cost of the premium. It is estimated that employees will pay two per cent of their salary to a maximum of $42 a month, with the employer paying the remainder of the premium,” Dr. Roberts said.
“Even individuals who make minimum wage will make a contribution, but even in those instances, the employer will be expected to pay a little bit more for them. So those who make minimum wage, if they are getting $10,000 we expect them to pay $17 a month towards this insurance, and that’s the cost of less than four Kaliks, depending on where you go to buy it.”
Dr. Roberts insists that the payment is not really a tax. He said this model, even though it may get some pushback, is the most sustainable for the country.
“You can go with the British system where the government pays and owns the facilities but they pay high-income tax or the Canadian system which the government funds, and even though it is privately owned again it is funded through income tax,” he said.
“The next system is the German system – it’s social insurance – and that is where you have salary deductions that seem to be the best to apply to our system, and that’s why we chose it because the fourth option is out of pocket payments and we can’t pay for that now.”
Dr. Roberts said primary care services under this new NHI will be expanded to include treatment for common diseases in the country.
“In addition, a high-cost care programme will be implemented to include comprehensive coverage for select conditions or treatments, all of which have a high prevalence in the country,” the chairman said.
“This includes breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, cervical cancer, ischemic heart disease, pacemaker needs and end-stage kidney disease. A national wellness programme will also be rolled out, which includes initiatives aimed at improving the health of the population over time.”
The NHIA has launched a 45-day consultation period with stakeholders to discuss the proposed changes to the program. The policy paper is posted on the NHI website for the public to review.