No health co-pay yet for civil service

| 23/02/2017 | 54 Comments

(CNS): Concerns raised by public sector workers that their salaries will be cut to cover the cost of co-paying on their health insurance cover has been allayed by the Civil Service Association president, who said that no decision had been made by government to change employee benefits. John Bothwell told the members that government and the association were talking about how to deal with the issue but nothing would change without the agreement of the association membership.

In a circular to government and public sector workers, the leader of the nearest thing Cayman has to a workers’ union said that despite announcements by the finance minister that he wanted to see co-pay on health benefits with civil servants by 2018, the portfolio of the civil service has made no decisions on the issue. Bothwell said the association was talking with senior officials in the portfolio about information gathering and other options that would avoid any need for co-pay.

He reassured members that the health benefits they receive were part of their contracts and government could not take them away without dealing with that contractual issue. He said the association had met on several occasions with management but nothing would happen without full consultation and discussions with the membership.

“The association has made no commitments on any possible future directions for civil service health care contributions and is providing feedback to our partners in the POCS based on previous association consultations among members,” Bothwell wrote in a circular this week, adding that there would be “extensive consultation” before any concrete decisions were made.

He said that the association was committed to representing the concerns members had and would be keeping the membership informed about the talks and any developments. Once there were any options to consider, the members would be invited to submit feedback on an issue that he accepted was worrying for the members and their families.

Almost all core government workers and some in the wider public sector have full health insurance cover that is paid for by government, for themselves and their dependents through CINICO, regardless of their salary. Many civil service jobs are not well paid and health insurance is often cited as a major perk that can make low paid government work considerably more attractive.

But the cost of the generous health package is paid for by tax payers and many people are resentful as few private sector workers enjoy such benefits. Many workers in Cayman have only the bare-bones cover of the basic SHIC plan, which they co-pay with their employers.

The arguments about co-pay have raged for some time and the civil service continues to reject the plan. In the end, if government workers find themselves under-insured because they lose their benefits, local civil servants will still end up being covered for their healthcare costs by government in the long run anyway. Having top quality healthcare provision also helps to keep workers fit and productive.

If government presses ahead with the plans it might only apply to new employees at the point of introduction otherwise government would need to renegotiate the contracts of some 3,000 workers and find a way to replace the value of the healthcare packages they enjoy.

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  1. CGS says:

    Dear 9:08am,
    I can sense your frustration but if civil servants were paying toward their healthcare, would that reduce you from having to pay $1,300? I doubt it. So basically you are angry because it appears unfair that you have to shell out $1,300 for your family and civil servants do not contribute anything toward theirs. However, did you stop and examine some of the jobs these people are doing and the pay they receive compared to their private sector counterpart?

    If the Government is going to insist that civil servants pay toward their own healthcare, they will have to increase some of their salaries to properly compensate them for their qualifications and skills and then deduct the healthcare contribution and review or fire those who are not performing but it seems that any form of increase in salary for civil servants will make the private sector angry.

    If they pay them less salary than what their skill deserve and throw in pension and healthcare to compensate, the private sector is angry.

    I would bravely ask, what is that you all actually want?

    You said the bonuses in the private sector aren’t much to speak of unless you are a manager or partner, the fact that you are actually getting a bonus (civil servants get nothing) is a plus.

    I agree with you that some civil servants seem to get away with a lot but wouldn’t the solution be someone having the courage to stand up and identify and FIRE these individuals or at the very least hold them accountable?

    Your comments seem to suggest that your frustration is because you know there are civil servants who don’t work as hard as you do and to add insult, they get free health care but is punishing those who do work hard and who do so much with so little the answer?

    Private sector companies are in the business of making a profit, if you as an employee cannot contribute to their bottom line, they have the prerogative to fire you. The Government is not or should not be a profit making company.

    Private sector individuals always see things from the standpoint of operating everything like a “business”. The public sector cannot be truly run like a business. It has so many obligations to the public, it provides services that are expensive and that it will never see a dime from much less a profit.

    Additionally when Government fire some of these people, they are going to end up “paying” these people one way or the other. Those same people are going to Social Services because they have no job, they will be given food vouchers, and perhaps get their rent paid while they sit at home and do absolutely nothing.

    Whenever someone defends civil servants, it is assumed that they must be a civil servant but I am looking at this from both sides.

    You have correctly identified so many issues with the civil service but painting all civil servants with such a broad brush is a disservice to all the hard working civil servants who do show up on time, who do work diligently throughout the day, who don’t take sick leave unless they are ill and those who don’t take sick leave even when they are ill and more importantly despite the paltry salary they are receiving they still show up and do their job with no complaint.

    I guarantee you that when they introduce co-pay, your premium is not going to reduce and the private sector will then complain that they want civil servants to pay the same amount of premium as well.

    If is clear that you are frustrated but I think you have not truly identified the source of your frustration and what to do about it and civil servants paying toward health care is not going to ease your frustration.

    • Rod Bodden says:

      Civil servants pay for there health services like everyone else! They pay import tax on everything they buy and those monies finances the hospital!

    • Anonymous says:

      If these MLAs are so worried about the cost of the ‘free’ health care why they keep adding more categories to it. Last week they made it possible for a seaman to have a wife and a former wife getting free CINICO.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Sir/Name you are absolutely correct.

  2. CGS says:

    It is always easy for the private sector workers to rant about civil servants not having to co-pay for health insurance yet they were silent when civil servants are not paid performance bonuses or have not received any increase in salaries, in some cases, over seven years except cost of living.

    When Government finally addressed that issue of some employees not getting any increase in salary over seven years, the private sector ranted about that as well.

    They don’t consider that currently even though they are co-paying with their employer for healthcare, in many cases more than not, their net pay is still higher than civil servants gross pay. This is not speculation, I have seen it.

    They look forward to getting their lump sum bonus check at the end of their company’s fiscal year, civil servants have nothing to look forward to.

    While I agree that the private sector employees are citizens and they should have concerns and a say in how the Government spend their taxes, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of them are just hateful, spiteful, ungrateful individuals who want civil servants to live as poorly as possible because they incorrectly believe that this will illustrate that their taxes are being spent responsibly? Really?

    They don’t consider that civil servants are human beings as well, they have families as well to support. There are civil servants who are not living lavish lifestyles, they are trying to pay their mortgage, to pay increasing utilities CUC bill, $200 water bill, and purchase groceries to feed themselves and their kids. Some have not had the luxury of jetting off island with their whole family on vacation in years.

    I agree there are some civil servants who are grossly overpaid and usually do very little but there are also hard working civil servants, who work thrice as hard as some private sector people for peanuts for salary compared to the private sector.

    The suggestion that Government can incorporate co-pay with new hires wont fly either because the salaries offered are so paltry compared with the private sector that the health insurance was added as a perk to try to attract prospective employees. If examined closely you will find that specialty jobs in Government are not paid even close to what their counterparts make in the private sector so in order to even attract someone of caliber they must be offered something to counteract the low salary.

    What is interesting is that the Government is constantly losing very talented people to the private sector. Why? If these benefits in Government are so great then why would they be constantly losing people to the private sector? Could it be that those people have discovered that even with co-paying in the private sector their net pay is still higher than their Government salary. Not to mention the possibility of added bonuses.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians fired by the private sector end up in government as it’s the employer of last resort and many excellent civil servants leave for the private sector. A dry good comment CGS.

    • Anonymous says:

      Haven’t the civil service received two pay rises in the last 2-3 years?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you are forgetting that whole fiasco when they gave them increase for something then took it away then another government tried to give back something by giving them some honourariam, then shortly after they received cost of living adjustment that they hadn’t received in years so pay rises…………sure, but more like them trying to play catch up. Again you are proving the point that any time civil servants receive any kind of pay raise, the private sector is up in arms.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:40. Finally some common sense. Let’s stop all the fighting. Let the private sector and public sector come together and achieve amazing things. After all one can’t exist without the other.

      I’m a proud Civil Servant.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am paying over $1300.00 per month for a family of 4 for health insurance which just increased AGAIN! That’s more than my mortgage. I can understand not wanting to pay for the shitty service at HSA but it’s free for you and your dependents so don’t complain as you aren’t paying a dime towards it. I also have to pay pension, another benefit of Gov’t workers. Believe me there is not much difference in salaries and these bonuses you speak of aren’t that great either unless you are a manager, partner etc…You also have to get your ass to work on time, account for your whereabouts, actually work and sick days are carefully monitored in the private sector. Gov’t workers get away with a lot. Let’s not mention when you all screw up, you have paid vacations for yearssssss.

      • Anonymous says:

        And ongoing salaries for those who have been placed on paid leave until such time let alone they’re healthcare privelege isn’t ceasing either. What a crying shame! Tell me! Doesn’t this drain our Government?
        I would like for candidates in this upcoming election to take action and do a Trump thing drain that swamp! The civil service is overburdened with scavengers and lazy people who are non-contributors and wasters of money.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is a fallacy to believe that Civil Servants get free health care. We have an employment contract that specifies what we get. Health care is certainly not free but part and parcel of a package that is much less than the private sector. We do not get annual pay raises and bonuses like the private sector does.
        Rumours, innuendo and plain mischief are the way of life here, and you and the others are only contributing to same by spreading such propaganda about Civil Servants.

  3. Anonymous says:

    so any reason why this wasn’t sorted over the last 4 years?????????

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Civil Service wellness programme let by the DG has been a tremendous success. Now if only the private sector would do the same we would have one of the healthier populations in the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay stop with the grand standing. The private sector also engages in wellness activities. Why does it always have to be public vrs private sector?

    • Anonymous says:

      If its such a success then how have I, nor my civil service colleagues, not heard of it?

  5. Anonymous says:

    no let’s just give them a COLA adjustment which most of the private sector doesn’t get. Oh and a bonus to go along with it

  6. 345 says:

    And the Alt-Right race to the bottom begins. Instead of insisting on no co-pays for all, people are demanding them for everybody and soon will seek higher ones to “reduce the onerous tax burden”.

    The result, the rich will get richer and the bottom dweller employees get screwed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    11:03: rubbish. Let’s see how many Civil servants will beat you in the DG5k. Didn’t you read the article that stated that 1100 public servants recorded 175 million steps in 3 weeks during the pedometer challenge. I think you are referring to the Civil Service 5 years ago. Not today Bobo.

    • Veritas says:

      Well there are still hordes of civil servants who are obese, they must have attached their pedometers to their dog.

    • Uncivil Servant says:

      Except it’s all lies. Do the math. Last years winner would have had to have been on the move for about 20 hours a day to meet his published step count.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone calm down. When this was announced in the LA it was stated that any co pay would happened in 2018. So this is really not news.

      Have a look at the constitution the politicians can only ask for this. Terms and conditions of civil servants rest with the Governor and Deputy Governor.

      Also this is not a simple exercise. First does anyone know what will happen to the HSA if all of a sudden we give Civil servants choice of a health care provider and they all leave the HSA? And if you say who cares…ask the Caymanian staff at the HSA if they care about their jobs being cut.

      Also when copay was introduced in the private sector the companies didn’t cut their staff pay. I expect the Civil Service to do the same.

      I have no doubt this will happen. I am very happy this is not being rushed.

      • Anonymous says:

        2:31pm You got it wrong. How many Caymanian staff are at the HSA? Do a count and you will get true stats. By gone days the hospital was staffed by locals, but not these days.

    • Local athlete says:

      It’s not about FitBit fads where steps are counted. It’s about lifestyle changes. Congrats to those who did participate in the DG5K, but tell me what they’re doing for the rest of the year. When the 3 week pedometer challenge is over, how many steps does it drop to in to following three weeks? Lifestyles changes will lead to improved overall wellness, not just something that you did that one time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shouldn’t they be working instead of walking?

    • Anonymous says:

      That statistic is meaninglessness. There are about 175 million civil servants so they each took one step and then sat back in their chairs for 20 more days and didn’t return calls.

    • Diogenes says:

      So less than one third of the total civil servants participated, and they managed on average three quarters of the daily recommended 10K steps. I think it’s great that some people are trying, but to try and portray the civil service as a whole as not only health orientated but competitive in 5k’s in Cayman where road running is widely popular seems a little over enthusiastic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but if you subtract the steps to pick up the 2,000 calorie lunches of oxtail and fried plantain stuffed into a styrofoam container they actually didn’t walk anywhere.

  8. Local athlete says:

    The article says “Having top quality healthcare provision also helps to keep workers fit and productive.” On the contrary, for the CI civil service at least, there is zero correlation between their amazing healthcare coverage and their fitness levels. Every single one of them of them, except for maybe five or six people, is obese.

    If the Civil Service had to start contributing to their health plan, we would see healthier, more dynamic, and less slow moving people behind those counters. Why? Because health insurance companies will tell them straight – unless you loose weight, quit your habits that lead to chronic diseases, and start exercising, your premium is going to stay ridiculously high.

    Presently, there is no incentive for a civil servant to get in shape and stay there. If they start paying for health insurance and hear they can lower their premium cost by being active, the amount of fit, healthy, and robust civil service workers would increase hundredfold. Not only that, but the energy increase from being in shape will collectively raise the spirits of this quasi-union as a whole, which could carry over into being much more pleasant to work with and quite possibly better customer service. Am I pushing it with that last bit? No. I really think this is possible.

    Just the two cents from a local athlete.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Blind leading the blind.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There’s a quid pro quo here: Government employees pay 20% copay just like every other health insurance carrier and in return they have the frredom to go outside HSA to see any doctor they desire. Government save 20% and patients get greater choice.

    • Anonymous says:

      We pay at least 50% of our health insurance not 20% especially if we want more than the basic coverage…an employer only has to pay 50% of basic plan. On top of that we also still have to copay when we go to a doctor for anything so civil servants (and their families) have a pretty sweet deal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can we go outside CINICO as well? Or will we have to pay 20% of whatever CINICO chooses to charge in order to cover the losses they make on the indigent/seamen/etc. coverage? (which is what they do to the Civil Service account now.) And are you prepared for the HSA to have to drop national services (or get even more direct subsidy from government) when a good chunk of their patients start going to the private sector, redirecting that money from circulating within government to being a true expense and funneling money in to private sector profits? … Oh, wait, I might see now why people outside of government are so keen to have this change made.

  11. B. Hurlstone says:

    There will never be any meaningful cuts for civil service. It would cost too many votes!

  12. Sharkey says:

    If the Lord Jesus Christ can’t help them , I am going to send Dr. Ben Carson, one of and first brain surgeon.

  13. Sharkey says:

    Dear Lord Jesus Christ please help these politicians understand that they have a Healthcare issue at hand and 3,000 civil servants contributions can or could solve much of the problems , and that every able working body should have to contribute to the Healthcare system , which benifits this said 3,000 civil servants.

    But I think why Government don’t want to do anything about it, is all because it helps them keeping 3,000 people under their control.

    CNS, CAN you please tell us if these politicians contribute to the Healthcare system out of their big fat pay checks ?

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be new here. If civil servants don’t pay a cent for healthcare, what makes you think the politicians would?

  14. Anonymous says:

    more do-nothing ppm…..

  15. UnCivil Servant says:

    Marco Archer was spouting his magical economic rhetoric but will never see it through because votes are the currency he and all politicians deal in. Good try tho by our financial guru who is just like his colleagues full of hot air with a nice smile.

    • Anonymous says:

      The post at 9.24 am makes a good point but in fact just by saying he is going to do it is going to likely cost him this election. Civil servants are not going to support someone knowing he will fulfill his promise in 2018. It’s strange though that this Goverment is only targeting civil servants while they keep adding new people to the free medical list. They added former Speakers and just added ex-wives of seamen. Can anyone say how many days or weeks a Speaker has to hold office to qualify as a ‘former Speaker’, and how long an MLA has to hold the title of MLA to qualify. Interesting comparison.

      • Anonymous says:

        Adding former Speakers was just a device to give Mary Lawrence free medical. All the others have it by the fact they are retired civil servants or will be retired parliamentarians one day. Giving it to ex wives of seamen is to pander to certain individuals connected to the politicians and also picks up votes at the same time.

  16. Veritas says:

    It is obvious that the thousands of civil servants and their dependents (including all our legislators), will never lose their gold plated free medical coverage and will continue to live in La La Land. What I cannot understand is why Government has not changed the contracts of new hires, this should have been done years ago.Procrastination, lack of accountability, poor performance are all essential qualifications for our civil servants.

  17. Allar says:

    Do you think that PPM is fool fool, this is election year.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone seriously believe this was going to happen before the elections in May? Our leaders are pretty stupid but they’re not that dumb.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “Having top quality healthcare provision also helps to keep workers fit and productive”

    Well judging by the rate of obesity in the CS, we all know that this is a big ol” lie

  20. Anonymous says:

    And in others new, absolutely nothing happened in Cayman yesterday. Apart from a strong westerly wind and a lot of waves. Even those will be forgotten about come election time.

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