There’s no doubt that the focus of health over the past 18 months has been on the management of the Coronavirus and now the Delta Variant, as globally, governments are focused on ensuring the safety of their people. The One Bermuda Alliance is today looking beyond the pandemic and asks this government the question: “How will they develop a healthy Bermuda without a National Health Plan?” What is the status of our National Health Plan? If this pandemic has taught us anything at all, it is that we cannot take our eye off the ball and that everyone should have access to basic healthcare, and that no one should be impoverished by the cost of coverage.
As a reminder, here’s what we do know about Bermuda’s current healthcare landscape:
- Over the past 15 years, the cost of healthcare in Bermuda has increased a whopping 193%;
- Per capita, the cost of healthcare in Bermuda ranks in the top two countries on the planet;
- Despite the high spending, our current healthcare doesn’t provide coverage for the entire population – approximately 10% of people have no health insurance and due to the economic impact of the pandemic, that number is constantly rising, whereas most high-income countries spend far less than we do on healthcare and provide access for everyone;
- The present system has not been able to slow down the rise in costs, and it is unaffordable for people with low earnings, which has now been exacerbated by increased unemployment;
- The Standard Health Benefit (SBH) only covers sick or chronically ill people, but does NOT cover preventative medical care;
- The general population is on the decline due to our low birth rate;
- Over the next 50 years, Bermuda’s senior population is set to grow by 68%;
- With an increase in the ageing population, there is an exponential increase in the demand for personal at-home caregivers;
- There is no central registry for professional caregivers who support seniors in their homes;
- There is a lack of clearly defined regulations for professional caregivers;
- The average cost per month for a caregiver for personal home care is approximately $5k while the monthly cost for care, per person in a senior residence can be up to $12k; and
- There needs to more clarity about whether there are any real benefits and equality for patients when local insurance companies purchase private medical practices. We cannot compromise the quality of patient-centric care over the commercial interest of these insurance companies.
Going forward, to bring Bermuda’s healthcare into the 21st century, as a government the OBA will prioritize the following initiatives:
- Develop a National Health Care plan that ensures that every Bermudian has access to affordable healthcare, one that is evidence-based, managed by independent professionals;
- Implement a “Unique Patient Identifier” (UPI) for everyone in Bermuda. that will also reduce duplication of services and drive down the cost of healthcare for all. It will assist in services being streamlined and produce a true number of those that are uninsured or underinsured to develop solutions to reduce this figure;
- Create a National Physical Fitness Programme to encourage well-being, sound health, exercise, and good personal diet, from primary school throughout life;
- Legislate that when insurance plans offer mental health coverage, they must cover it in the same way as medical coverage and not offer lesser coverage for mental health services; and
- Create clearly defined regulations for professional in-home caregivers and the supporting structure for a central registry of qualified caregivers to support the growing senior population.