CINICO boss backs failing insurance system

| 14/11/2017 | 30 Comments

(CNS): Despite myriad problems associated with the current health insurance environment in Cayman and government’s plans to review the system, the CINICO chief told Finance Committee Friday that he believed it was “ideal”. Lonny Tibbetts said he did not support a single pay system and that the existing mix of private sector firms and the government’s insurance company could be made to work with premium subsidies for the indigent and elderly. However, as he answered members questions on the sticky topic of health insurance, Tibbetts confirmed that with the right capitalization, CINICO was capable of providing health insurance to all.

Government has promised a review of the current system and is already leaning towards opening the public insurer to a much border demographic. There are many problems at the moment for CINICO (Cayman Islands National Insurance Company) as it is picking up the slack in a system where private sector insurance firms are cherry picking clients or charging people with potential health problems impossibly high premiums, and the public purse is paying twice for the failures of the system that Tibbetts said was ideal.

Figures produce by CIMA recently revealed that insurance firms are making a significant profit in the current health insurance system, while CINICO and the public purse are paying for that.

CINICO currently provides insurance to more than 15,000 people, including civil servants, some public authority employees, veterans and seamen, as well as elderly and indigent Caymanians. The company at present cannot sell policies outside those groups, which means its pool is largely made up of the highest risk people in the country.

But indicating his dislike of a single-pay system, Tibbetts said he had never seen a monopoly that was efficient and he believed the current structure could be improved with government subsidies to get everyone covered rather than a single entity covering everyone. 

“I do believe the current structure we have locally now is ideal, where it is based on your risk and personal ability to subscribe, though I do believe we can improve access to health coverage with subsidies for low-income families,” he said.

Regardless of his claims that the system was “ideal”, Tibbetts went on to highlight the significant problem for people retiring from the private sector. “The problem though is that elderly citizens are being exposed …they are being pushed out of insurance plans,” he told the committee.

Tibbetts pointed out that as employers are not legally required to contribute to insurance or pensions once workers reach 65, even if they carry on working for the same employer post-retirement age, these people are pushed on to the open market at the time they are most likely to need health care. Even the healthiest of workers aged 60 or over will not be able to find the most basic SHIC plan for less than $300.

But he said most people over 60 will be looking at premiums in excess of $1,500 if they have existing conditions. With the average pensioner not even drawing that amount of money a month, they are turning to the government company, or going without altogether and government picks up the direct cost for their treatment.

Tibbetts suggested that employers who are not retaining retirees in the company scheme should be taxed in some way so the burden on CINICO can be reduced.

The CINICO boss explained that many statuary authorities and government companies (SAGS) are not using the national firm. He said that when it calculated policies for some of the SAGCs that came to CINICO for quotes, they walked away from the table saying it was too expensive. But Tibbetts complained that in every case the authorities were not comparing apples to apples because they had such poor levels of cover from the private market, whereas CINICO was offering much more cover and access.

He said the policies were often like chalk and cheese and CINICO was far more competitive than the SAGCs appreciated. Tibbetts said the main issue with the authorities they had met with was that they took the view that the risk of workers needing more cover was minimal, and even if they did they would default to an indigent plan, which government would pay for anyway.

See the CINICO chief appear before the Finance Committee below on CIGTV.

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Category: Government Finance, Health, Health Insurance, Politics

Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    ok…lets give provate sector 51 % of ownership and fund it with public funds? it coming! you wait y see….?

  3. Anonymous says:

    snork phewww snork pheww!!?

  4. anonymous says:

    I’m a civil servant and wish that I had the option, like the statutory authorities, to opt out of CINICO and enroll in a private insurance scheme, including paying part of my premium and deductibles; this would allow me the freedom to chose my health provider, which I currently does, at my own expense, except for lab work. I was incensed when my private doctor told me that HSA have private insurance and routinely use medical services outside of HSA. LT has no clue about the business he was gifted as a compromise from leaving his previous top job! A very apt caption, too.

  5. Have a heart Cayman says:

    The numbers just don’t add up when it comes to insurance and the average person…

    CNS: The rest of this comment is posted here.

  6. Anonymous says:

    He says single payer insurance would be bad for Cayman. This is the reason Republicans in America reject lousy Obamacare and will never accept socialist style medical care. It doesn’t work.

    • Anonymous says:

      350 million Europeans say you are wrong…how would you know if you never had it? Its not perfect, but it works.

  7. Phil says:

    It is about f#$king time to open the border to allow bigger international insurance company in cayman. Cayman island is too small to have own insurance company which why CINICO is not making money and all civil employees must pay 50% of insurance….why they need special treatment to not pay insurance….it is bloody 2 faced rules.

    • West bay Premier says:

      Well Phil , then I would have to say that we should implement President Trump idea of DRAIN THE SWAMP. . I think that his idea of drain the swap is get rid of all the greedy corrupted Politicians . Which I also believe that the people need to have representation who cares for the Islands and the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aetna isn’t big enough for you?

      Seriously, why comment when you clearly have issues with reading comprehension.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lonnie XXXXXX but that is part of our problem in Cayman having to employ people simply because of where they were born. If he cannot see the benefit to a population of a single payer system that exists in nearly every developed country except the stupid USA then he should be gotten rid of.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The definition of “ideal” means its working for him and his good friends in the insurance business.. The fact that it is a disaster for everyone who must now pay for it is completely lost on him. And he is the boss. Still.

  10. Anonymous says:


  11. Anonymous says:

    What Mr Tibbetts meant was that it’s ideal for himself and all his thousands of fellow civil servants and public service employees as they never have and never will pay a cent for their gold plated medical insurance. It’s a job for life with free medical insurance for life.

    • PD says:

      Look this is way out of control. The rich are running the show and the hell with the rest of us. Enough of this bullshi@ and get a national program for pensions & health insurance. Put a income tax on earners over $20,000.00 per year. Quit the nonsense as the majority of regular people make that or less a year. This antiquated duty system is not working as money bags are paying the same as the poorest worker. Thing is the money people can go abroad and shop.
      Why does anyone think the crime and diversity is getting worse every day? Open your eyes Cayman and lets get our country back before it is too late.
      God Bless us all!

    • Civil Servant says:

      I can’t figure out if you are upset that this is truly a negative effect on society on a whole or that you are not a civil servant.

      Seems like if you were a civil servant getting that benefit, you would not be posting anything negative here, so it is not that you are really concerned with the system and its effects on others but the fact that you are not receiving that benefit yourself.

      With my skills and job title when compared to my counterpart in the private sector I am making thousands less per year, to make the job attractive the government offered to pay my medical insurance and pension contribution as an incentive.
      When I compare my salary to my counterpart in the private sector, their net salary (after pension and healthcare) is still higher than my salary (with the “free medical insurance” and pension contributions)

      Additionally, with CINICO I am bound to the hospital. If I choose to go to a private doctor, I pay that out of pocket. I don’t have choice like people in the private sector do.

      Why do people in the private sector keep focusing on medical insurance being paid by the Government and ignoring the whole picture?

      You appear to be one of those who is always complaining of someone else getting “the bigger half”.
      If civil servants have to start contributing to their health insurance but it works out to be less than you are paying because they have no choice, you will also complain about that.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Anyone who thinks CINICO is ideal really should not be doing the job.

  13. Slacker says:

    How can this be an “ideal” system when private ” insurance firms are making a significant profit” while CINICO is making a loss?

    The only comparison in western countries, is the US vs. the rest of them. When you look at the outcomes, e.g. infant mortality, life expectancy, personal bankruptcy… It becomes abundantly clear that what we have here is as far from “ideal” as we can get.

  14. Anonymous says:

    As with everything else in cayman insurers run wild with no regulation! A government dominated by life long politicians and rich retirees can never be one for the people! Cayman you need to start voting in some hardworking lowerclass people who have actually suffered the plight with the majority! Not these elitist!

    The chair of pansheer

    • Jotnar says:

      Like McKeeva Bush you mean. Wasn’t that his whole shtick, back in the day – son of the soil, working class gardener, knew the peoples suffering etc. That worked well, didn’t it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    For once, Cayman, let’s do the right thing by insuring these groups and NOT make it all about the bottom line. If the Government is reporting a surplus then the surplus needs to be earmarked for education and healthcare and NOT a cruise ship dock that nobody but a few powerful families will ever profit from.

  16. West bay Premier says:

    I don’t understand why these Officials can want a free Healthcare stystem for all , and is saying that 1/4 of the population is indigent and veterans and seamen .
    I think that if the Government became effective all things would be possible and profitable . But that’s hard to do when you’re trying to do one thing two different ways .

    • Anonymous says:

      The private companies dont have a conscience. They throw their employees to the wolves when they can no longer work. What the private insurance companies do should be illegal. Living in Cayman is a tough life if you are not rich.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because Free Healthcare For All is very appealing line of bullshit for politicians that can’t solve real issues, to use to buy votes from their constituents that continually want free stuff from their neighbors.

      Because “Free Healthcare” = Healthcare we want someone else to pay for.

      • Anonymous says:

        how will we pay for free healthcare? Someone has to pay the bill. we are not a country that collects income tax to support this. so again how are you going to pay for free healthcare.

        • Boggy Sound man says:

          Simple put an income tax in place allowing low wage earners an exception, Get some of the millions from the rich who are just here to avoid tax in there home country. Problem is the politicians lack the balls to upset there wealthy supporters. Old saying “money talks and bulsh&* walks”

          • Cos says:

            If we had proper charges for procedures it might be feasible. But as long as we allow providers to overcharge there is no hope. Government has made it quite clear that they do not want fair billing , nor do they want to rock their gravy train of free care for the betterment of all.

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