The Insurance Association of the BVI (IABVI), in a press release issued on 25 August revealed a number of points and raised a number of questions about the proposed National Health Insurance. Chief among them is the suggestion that NHI will cost more than private insurance currently does.
“Based upon an average health insurance premium across the BVI, the cost between the employer and employee for NHI is generally more expensive than the cost of private health insurance. This does not take account of the cost of paying for any non-working spouses or dependents in your household which will increase the cost of NHI,” IABVI announced.
During the consultation period of the NHI a number of residents expressed concern that they may not be able to afford NHI and additional private insurance. This concern was confirmed by the Insurance Association who announced that although the NHI does not cover all the health insurance needs, many residents will not be able to afford top-up or supplementary plans due to the cost of NHI.
The inability of customers to afford additional insurance plans spells trouble for the private providers who explained that they may have to lay off staff. “Members of the IABVI would like to offer their customers supplementary or top-up plans, but due to the expense of NHI they do not feel that this would be affordable to most customers, therefore all firms who employ staff in medical departments will have to make the majority of their departments redundant as a result,” the organization said.
The Association also listed ten questions that it posed to the NHI. These questions include enquiries about the processing of urgent requests for treatment requiring pre-authorisation, and whether the NHI is outfitted with staff and system to handle the volume of claims (including pharmacy) estimated to be a minimum of 200,000 per annum.
The IABVI further asked: “What will happen to patients who will require more than 30 days hospitalisation or if they maxed out other benefits with limitation? For example, during a presentation for renal care, it was mentioned that a person who requires dialysis 3 times a week at Peebles might need at least $180K a year. However, the NHI will only cover $70K.”
They also questioned the issue of maternity coverage by asking: “Since children born in the BVI by non-belongers or non-residents will not be considered a BVI resident, the mothers would usually prefer to go to nearby islands like Puerto Rico or return to their country of residence for delivery. How will NHI handle this situation? Will they still be able to avail the maternity benefits since it is stated in the policy schedule that there will be no overseas maternity coverage?”