A red flag relating to the state of the National Health Insurance (NHI) was once again issued by Deputy Premier Hon. Carvin Malone. Once again, the Minister stated that NHI as it currently stands is unsustainable and drastic decisions ought to be made.
While speaking at a town hall meeting held at the Catholic Community Centre in Virgin Gorda on 23 January Hon. Malone told the gathering that “some hard decisions have to be made,” in relations to NHI which Hon. Malone on other occasions announced is not in good shape.
While noting that the principle theory of the NHI is one that has been beneficial to countries around the world, Malone noted that things are not the best with the local NHI. While stopping short of calling for an overhaul the Minister said, “It is well intended but we have to find out what that intent was. We have to find out where we would like to take this in a sustainable manner, how best we can do this so that when you need the services, of the National Health Insurance, that you can gain from this.”
In pointing to a small glimmer of hope the Health Minister explained that the causes of some of the issues are known and viable solutions have been floated. In noting one of the areas of interest gleaned, the Minister mentioned that the system has a financial strain on the public purse. He explained that this is so because the system provides for free health care for certain groups and this cost is picked up by government.
Additionally, the Minister explained that Government also funds the BVI Health Services Authority. In explaining how this ties in to the issues with NHI Hon. Malone said, “Government contributes about $42M to take care of the hospital administration and health care for all these persons. But most persons have their private doctor. They say they don’t want to go to Peebles or they don’t want to go to Iris O’Neal (Health Centre) they want to go to a private doctor.”
In further harping on the unsustainability of the sector Hon. Malone said, “Although government is paying for all these services we have to pay it twice, because when they go to a private institution then they have to get the 10% co-pay, and we have 90 cents on every dollar that NHI has to pay again, so government in that case is paying twice for those services for those persons who have free health care.”
In July last year the Minister disclosed to the House of Assembly the dire state the NHI was in. While laying a report that spoke of the situation on the table of the House of Assembly on 31 July, Hon. Malone pointed out that the financial demands are becoming too much for NHI. He said that the report was conducted to assess the financial conditions of the National Health Insurance program and the adequacy of the contributions to support the benefits. He noted that the findings are somewhat troubling and that essentially a crisis can develop.