With no definite answers from the government on the continuation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme and how it will be funded, one union leader said he is still in support of the program.
Recently elected president of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) Darren Woods said, as the union prepares to negotiate a “master plan” for hotel industry workers in the country, the anticipated tax to its members and the wider community must be taken into consideration.
Earlier this year Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands suggested that a “sin” tax on alcohol, cigarettes, fast food, etc. be implemented to help fund NHI.
He said he had hoped to have the approval before this year’s fiscal budget. Two days shy of the budget presentation and it is still unclear if government will introduce that tax.
Woods said while the union continues to push for its own private medical insurance, a national health insurance plan fully implemented would be beneficial.
“When you look at health care and what it cost today, it is hard to get affordable health care. So if we can get that for the hospitality industry persons, we will be that much ahead,” he said.
“We recognize … over the years, you will find that persons are contracting non-communicable diseases, high blood pressure and heart conditions and we are dying because of it.”
Woods said he also supports the governments plan to revamp the national bread basket list to include healthier foods.
“If we can bring the cost of healthier food down, more people will be able to live healthier,” he said.
“People say its too expensive to live healthy, but once you have to go to the doctor, it is more expensive… these are some of initiatives that we want the government to be successful in, not only for our members, but for all Bahamians.”