(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has made his most emphatic statement yet about private sector health insurance and pensions failing the people of the Cayman Islands, describing them during Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting as breaking the government coffers. McLaughlin said government could not continue to carry people who cannot afford health cover when they retire because they are on such small pensions. He said he expected the Chamber of Commerce to have a stroke when they heard his comments but the public service pension scheme was far better than anything on offer in the private sector and government should have created a national plan from the start.
He said when it came to pensions and the health insurance firms, government has been sold a bag of goods that does not meet the needs of the community and the provisions are “grossly inadequate”.
McLaughlin pointed to the pressure from the Chamber against a national scheme when government moved towards introducing the mandatory pension environment, but if they had pressed ahead with that idea things would be much further ahead by now.
Members discussed the problems surrounding retirees from the private sector being propped up by government because of a combination of paltry pensions and ridiculously high insurance premiums for retirees, having been removed from their former company schemes regardless of years of service. The premier said that the more he was exposed to the effect of the current private pension and health systems, the more he realised “how terribly” they are failing the people.
“We were sold a bag of goods which just isn’t what we need,” he said.
The premier said the pensions that people will receive from the private sector are grossly inadequate and “there are those who will condemn what I have to say now… the Chamber of Commerce will probably have a stroke”
He continued, “But the reality is the public service pension scheme is far better than anything any of the private providers can even dream of. It is better run; it provides a much better return.
He added, “We would have been much further ahead as a country if the Chamber had not fought government at the time and allowed the pension to be a government-run scheme.”
The private health insurance situation is going to break government, not specifically his administration but the Cayman government in general, if the legislators did not find a way to address the problem, McLaughlin said.
The premier said healthcare was a human right in a modern developed country like Cayman, and therefore the system had to be fixed. He warned that if there was another financial crisis like the one in 2008, no matter the size of government reserves, the country would not be able to cope with the burdens created by the failing private health cover and pension schemes.
See the premier’s comments on CIGTV below.