CIG proposing health insurance plan for over 65s

| 20/03/2018 | 22 Comments

health insurance, Cayman News Service(CNS): The government is embarking on a public consultation on the idea of a Standard Health Insurance Contract for seniors in the Cayman Islands aged 65 and older. The Health Insurance Commission (HIC) and Department of Health Regulatory Services (DHRS) have created a survey seeking opinions on how Cayman can best meet the unique healthcare needs of the more than 4,000 older members of the community. But the suggestion is already making waves as the opposition leader said the idea was “absolutely ridiculous” and “flies in the face of the whole purpose of health insurance”.

The cost of health insurance and the coverage that people get has posed a challenge in the Cayman Islands for some time, as it has the world over. But in recent times the premier, who previously held the health portfolio, has indicated that the local system wasn’t working and hinted that some form of single pay or a national system may be more suitable for Cayman. But despite those previous hints, it appears government is now considering other ways of tinkering with the current private sector system.

In a press release from his ministry, issued after he left for Hong Kong, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said the proposal follows the recently adopted older persons’ policy.

“As that document makes clear, government is committed to ensuring that this vulnerable but much valued section of our population has access to coverage that is affordable, sustainable and allows them to enjoy a high quality of life,” he said.

Over the next four weeks residents of all ages are encouraged to take part in a survey, which is available online here or in hard copy format at the GAB building. Part of what officials called a feasibility study on developing a health contract for elderly people, the public consultation will be an important part of the process.

Health Insurance Commission Chair Harvey Stephenson pointed out that the current standard health insurance contract (SHIC) offers maternity benefits, while older persons might benefit instead from increased coverage for prescription medicines or outpatient visits.

“In 2016 there were some 4,000 people aged 65 and over in the Cayman Islands, with an average life expectancy of 82 years,” said Stephenson. “Our aim is to better understand this population’s unique needs. Questions we will be looking to answer include whether to create a special plan for them, how we might go about doing it, and whether there are other ways to achieve the same goal.”

Noting that it is impossible to say at this stage what the revised coverage might look like, Mervyn Conolly, the superintendent of health insurance, urged all residents to have their say.

“The aim of this survey is to allow older persons and those who will eventually become older persons to articulate their needs and opinions concerning the affordability and sustainability of health insurance coverage,” he said, adding that a separate poll has been sent to local health insurance brokers.

The issue, however, has been raised on a number of occasions in the Public Accounts Committee, PAC Chair Ezzard Miller told CNS that he believes the proposal is absurd for a number of reasons.

“It flies in the face of the whole purpose of health insurance, which is to spread the risk across the whole population,” he said. “The price of such a health contract would be horrendous based on an aging, high-risk, small group, which is the most in need of health care. The premiums will be very, very high — probably exceeding $1,500 a month.”

Miller said this was the wrong approach and government should be looking at a wider national or single payer plan that would enable the risk to be spread across the community so that the costs could be offset by the young and healthy.

“This proposal will just be another windfall for the insurance sector, which made a clear profit of more than $10 million last year and which the government seems reluctant to offend.”

While the proposal remains in its early stages, the government has already contracted Canadian human resource consultants, Morneau Shepell, to conduct both the survey and the study on behalf of the commission and department.

To this end representatives of the firm have already led meetings seeking input from stakeholders, including approved healthcare and health insurance providers, older persons and members of the business community, officials said.

The public survey will be open until 15 April. It asks 22 questions and should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. Morneau Shepell will then produce a report that will use this public opinion and other measures to determine a suitable schedule of benefits for the local environment, as well as an actuarially determined health insurance premium rate for persons aged 65 and older.

Known as SHIC 65+ for the group on which the study is focusing, the project is expected to be completed by early summer and its results made available to the public shortly after.

Members of the public can download the form or complete the online survey at the Department of Health Regulatory Services website

Hard copies are available from the Health Insurance Commission kiosk on the ground floor of GAB and from all district health clinics on all three islands, and may be returned to these places. 

Additional information is available from melissa.maize@gov.ky.

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Category: Health, Health Insurance

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just did the survey. They are missing a few necessary ‘n/a’ and ‘why?’ options on some of their questions. (And switch between current/future/current tenses at at least one inopportune time.) At least you can skip a question for which they don’t provide a good option, but its going to mess with their numbers. And leave them scratching their heads as to some of the results. I don’t suppose we should expect any better from overseas consultants though. These kinds of logical holes are where you insert your pre-existing bias/solutions.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    The whole thing I find ridiculous is that we pay high health insurance premiums when we’re young and healthy, then become virtually non-insurable when we reach age 60 and above when we need it the most. I suggest Mr Premier get cracking on a national health insurance plan rather than the present system that is run by a cartel of insurance companies seeking only to profit at the expense of the people of these Islands. Think about that and compare health insurance rates in other countries before you spout foolishness in response to this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So, You rather another system ran by the government cartel? I only imagine what THOSE details would be!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful idea and great political tool!

    Let’s take the economic catastrophe and *blistering idiocy going on at HSA*, but instead… do it on a nation scale and make it everyone’s problem!

    Bravo!

    This is what happens when economical morons have grandiose ideas. Keep up the good work.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    A perfect feel-good irrevocable politically driven entitlement plan to bankrupt the entire country with absolute certainty.

    All of which is managed by beuraucrats and politician economic morons

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The cheapest way is for government to just pay the HSA medical bills on island for Caymanians over 65 and eliminate the consultants, insurance companies and other middlemen. It’s like being self insured. The duties you pay on everything and the work permit and other fees is how you spread the cost around. Plus you cut out a huge amount of overhead and profit skimming. If people want to pay for private doctors that’s fine too.

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  6. Fountain of youth says:

    They need to revise the health insurance definition of dependents. As parents are living longer their children may be required to cover their parents medical expenses. Elderly parents at this time can’t be added to an existing family membership as dependents only covers children. And yet Cayman’s immigrations definition of dependents is broad.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the government work to make the current system effective, fair and accessible before embarking on another random project? Also, why not make the current local insurers pour some of their profit back into the healthcare system to help everyone and not just shareholders. So frustrating!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    means testing is the answer. end of story.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Means testing and..Taxation. A health tax assessment should be placed on all Cayman employed persons , whether work permit holders or otherwise. This could assist in funding health coverage for all ages. Its how it works in the outside world.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    People who are over age 60 have virtually no opportunity to work due to ageism bias, despite high level of skills attained over a lifetime of experience . At present my income would not even cover the cheapest policy available, let alone leave me anything to live on! I owe the HSA over $20,000 which will never be paid since I have VERY limited income.

    Chronic medical issues and vision/dental issues are being completely ignored due to inability to pay and no insurance cover. This is the harsh reality for those who find themselves in this situation.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Premier as you are looking out for us older Caymanians.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Just a friendly reminder that this government refuses to acknowledge the existent unfunded health and pension liabilities of the public sector…over a Billion and counting. Sorry, there is no free healthcare for 65+ year olds when your budgeting is this far off base. Cancel the Port ambitions, close the Turtle Farm and stop the CAL bailouts, and maybe one element will get funded in time. We need to acknowledge these liabilities on the territorial balance sheet.

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    • Boggy Sound man says:

      Just a friendly reminder of all the great things Mr Premier and the unity team are doing for us. Keep up the hard work and please return for 4 more years to do more good.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Miller is correct, though I hate to say it. The insurance companies here ( and in the States) are ripping us all off. What makes me mad is that our tax payer funded Radio Cayman still allows that sweet spoken Jamaican accented head or former head of British Caymanian to run a regular show on mumbling ( “blessed, blessed”) Sterling Dwayne’s programme telling us how wonderful health insurance is and even on occasion praising the government for introducing it! It is sickening. Health care should not be a for profit enterprise and with the cherry picking that goes on in Cayman it certainly is just that.

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  13. Cor Blimey! says:

    Mr Miller, you will soon be reaching 65, but you will not be paying $1500 a month for the most basic cover,, nor will you be paying more than double that for your gold plated coverage, you and all your cohorts will be paying precisely zero.With 6,000 or more in your enviable position, how can you claim that the purpose of health insurance is to spread the risk over the whole population.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly what gold plated coverage you are referring to.? If Mr. Miller or any of the other politicians has a gold plated coverage they are paying for it themselves, otherwise they have Cinico which is provided by the government as the civil service does. I am sure if required they would have no problem in paying for part of their premium. Not one of them would dare balk about it. You should be asking the government to give us more benefits than $400 per year after paying in access of $500 per month. Instead of fixing Cinico they are wasting our money again with this stupid Canadian idea that will only cost us more. PLease bear in mind these Canadian fixes are coming from persons whose country have had a tax base to negotiate from, from day one. While we were busy creating wealth through low tax and tax free for every tom dick and harry, no thought was given to how we the less well off population of the Cayman islands would survive. No one thought of any kind of plan to set aside a small percentage of the funds on our books to be match by a small tax from us to create a way for us to get subsidise or low cost health insurance after retirement. It is too late for those of us over 65 but what about our children and grandchildren? If the government really want to help us the retired persons, then make Cinico the national insurance that it was set up to be, whereby every insurable person on the island will have to pay in to it. If they want their gold plated insurance then they can go right ahead and add that at their own expense. The private insurance companies has been fighting this from day one. Now they have set up one of the foxes to guard the hen house. The retired population make up a significant number of the electoral base, and we can let them know that we do not agree with what they are doing to us. Any short fall that comes up because of this new plan they are tinkering with will have to be covered by NAU because very few of us have any pension to fall back on. The government better stop pussyfooting around and fix this to our benefit instead of costing us more!!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Once again our Govt is finding ways to waste our money on further consultants fees. When our premier was in charge of our Health Services he was clueless to the needs of our older persons and now we, the public, will once again be fattening the purses of the overseas consultants.

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