Health insurance failings roll on

| 10/08/2020 | 50 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): The multiple problems associated with the failing health insurance system in Cayman was recently raised again in Finance Committee, but there are still no policy solutions on offer from the health minister. The original budget to cover tertiary healthcare costs for indigents and those with inadequate health cover for 2019 was CI$9.9 million but the actual cost ended up being almost $37 million as result of a CI$11.3 million addition last year and another CI$15 million voted in this latest change to the budget.

As legislators quizzed both Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson and Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, the magnitude of the cost to government to plug the gaps in the failing mandatory private health insurance system was revealed.

Chris Saunders, the opposition member for Bodden Town West, pointed out that, together with the payment on line item ‘NGS55’, there was likely to be millions more on the HSA’s subsidy from government to cover the unpaid bills of indigents at the hospital.

“The government cannot continue this,” he said. “This is a $50 million a year problem. This can’t continue… This is something we need to fix now.”

However the health minister had few solutions to offer as he described it as one of his “pet peeves”.

Seymour, who has been in office for three and a half years, told his committee colleagues that his ministry had “just done a presentation that may address some of this”, and that they were “going through the motions” to tackle what is a significant problem. Apparently agreeing with Saunders, he said that the Cayman Islands would “go bankrupt if we continue on this road”, though he had no policy solutions to reverse course.

Saunders called for the “whole model to be turned upside down”, and said said the main problem lay with the private sector insurance companies dumping retirees onto CINICO. He said that taxpayers should not be subsidizing a scheme that sees the private sector insurance companies covering workers when they are young and healthy, only to reject them when they need it most. CINICO must be allowed to expand and compete with the private sector to cover more people throughout their working lives and not just when they retire, he said.

“We have to move at some point to national health insurance,” Saunders stated. “We can’t keep dumping everything on government, and the private sector getting as rich as hell and the taxpayers getting stuck with all of this.”

He asked what it would take to expand CINICO and properly spread the risk currently being carried entirely by the government’s insurance company.

Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, who has responsibility for CINICO, said government had already commissioned an analysis of its operations and its expansion was under consideration. The consultants were expected to present their findings in October, he noted. However, concerns were raised that the consultants were from the same company that had conducted the review of a potential over 65s basic plan, which Minister Seymour had jettisoned when he learned the cost of the premiums for such a policy.

Answering Finance Committee questions on behalf of Minister McTaggart, who was chairing the committee, Jefferson said there was “absolutely no doubt” that what Saunders and other members had said was accurate and well received, as he outlined the magnitude of the costs subsidizing healthcare.

Government spends around $100 million, more than 20% of its annual budget, every year covering the healthcare costs of people who are either not insured or under-insured and this had to be addressed, Jefferson added.

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Category: Government Finance, Health, Health Insurance, Policy, Politics

Comments (50)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Rather than national health insurance, why not just change the. Insurance law that forces insurance companies to provide reasonable rates for retirees. If it’s retirees that is the problem, then address that directly. I am sure most people that have always paid for private insurance do not want to al of a sudden use CINICO. I know I personally don’t if I don’t have to. I would rather retain my private insurance following retirement and until my time comes

    I don’t understand why the only solution is national insurance where the government will pick up the tab even more. Why would anyone pay for anything at that point? The large majority of people do not want to go to GT hospital if they can avoid it. Who really wants to wait in the emergency room for hours on end. Why would anyone who was accustomed to getting in and out of emergency in 20-30 mins for a broken arm at one of the private hospitals willingly choose to go to GT hospital just because it is free? I would rather pay my 20% co-pay and go home. The impractical part is the rate insurance charges for retirees. Why not make it law that the Insurance rate should be $500 per month if you retire from your employer where you worked there for at least 5 years prior. The coverage should remain the same as what was provided to you while paying the additional premiums. although $500 is still a lot because pension only pays out $1000. Pension payments should be the next thing addressed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Business always pays, the Gov. is not an industry, if the locals are KFC fed and Wendy’s fat with the associated health problems an Ins. company would be insolvent to insure them. YOU WILL PAY with more import duty or a sales tax.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t the Premier recently praise the health minister for the exceptional job that he is doing? If so, it might speak to the root of the problem with the current government.

    • Anonymous says:

      2:26 pm
      Believe what Aldart says and you may find yourself wondering or lost in the forest.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s past time for a National Health Insurance scheme. People can still be free to purchase enhanced health benefits from private health insurance providers if they wish, but letting private health insurance cherry-pick the young and healthy and then handing them over to government when they are old and more likely to get sick must stop. And it has to stop quickly!

    I am a Caymanian who has worked for two of the larger private companies in Cayman for 45+ years, and from day one I have always had private health insurance through them long before it was mandated by government.

    Next year I will reach retirement age, but I could also retire tomorrow. My current health insurance is $1,600 per month, of which my employer picks up $1,200 and I pay the $400 additional to cover my wife.

    I have also been paying into the local mandatory pension scheme, and the total value of my pension today is higher than that of most people in Cayman, but I can still only get the maximum $1,000 per month from that after retirement. However, if I choose to retire tomorrow, my health insurance premium as an individual, although still at the “best price” to a retiree of Company “X” (my employer), was quoted at $4,500 per month for me and my wife.

    As an individual with a six-figure salary I have made some provisions for other retirement income. I haven’t paid any house insurance for over 20 years since I own it, and I figure Ivan would have to come every other year for it to be worthwhile for me to purchase house insurance. I have never had any major surgery or sickness in my life, but I can’t fix any illness that I may get, at least not in the same manner that I know how to repair/rebuild my house.

    So if I find myself in this position, what in the hell does our MLAs have to say to other individuals my age who are struggling to get by on less than $3,000 per month right now?

    • Anonymous says:

      An individual policy is a lot more than a group plan. When you retire find a group to join like AARP or a service club that has a group plan on offer.

      • Anonymous says:

        The quoted $4,500 per month is a group policy. It is for a group called Company X retirees. As an individual, unaffiliated with this group, the rate is an even staggeringly higher amount.

        Please note that the pension plan offered to retirees is really just a goodwill gesture in order to retain the plan for the rest of Company X employees. Being involved with negotiations at a senior level, many of the health insurance providers flatly stated that they have no plans whatsoever to cover retirees.

        Basically, there are health insurance providers in Cayman who stop providing health insurance to anyone who is over a certain age and not working, even if you have the means to pay $10,000 per month or more for health insurance. All perfectly legal under the current health insurance law.

  5. David Gordon says:

    Not much in this story is new information. Next week it is education, then waste/landfill, then pension, the elderly, young people, special needs, sports, and heritage & culture.

    I thank God for the beauty of our beloved Cayman Islands, for without that, we would not smile as much.

    Let’s make all decisions with the Cayman Islands’ absolute best interest first (every time) followed by all who call her home. We are so far away from this concept that it may sound childlike, but so does 50M a year for healthcare.

    My prayer for my country is that all voters and influencers will hold our business and elected leaders accountable for the stewardship of the Cayman Islands.


    • Anonymous says:

      Making hard choices is not popular in Cayman. Now that the golden geese are nearly dead, it is likely to get ugly.

  6. Anonymous says:

    don’t blame jon-jon…blame the leadership who has ut him in over his head and who have kept him there…

  7. KSS says:

    It’s all well and good Seymour agreeing that it’s a problem but after 3.5 years in office he hasn’t come up a single solution which only amplifies his absolute inadequacy and proves once again this man is only in it for the money. His only ability appears to be quoting scriptures to pacify his voting block. #timetogo

  8. Anonymous says:

    Alden should have never put fool fool Seymour in charge of health. An obese idiot in charge of one of the most important
    ministries. Joke!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    THAT is why government should nationalize health insurance.
    They would have a 15 million surplus.

    Now a handfull of share holders walk away with million while people die.

    • Hubert says:

      6:00, Will never happen as a handful of Caymanian shareholders take home millions every year and they have superb political influence.

      Too many vested Caymanian interests on this issue.

  10. Llareggub says:

    “The health minister had few solutions and called it one of his pet peeves”
    What! Is this man serious? I wouldn’t let him near the controls of my TV nevermind a ministry that spends 25% of your budget

  11. Anonymous says:

    It’s simple. The government collects an average premium from everybody on the 3 islands. They are going to end up paying for the bill anyway. Get rid of useless medical insurance companies. We can do a lot of savings by sending people to do operations and dental work in Cuba. By now everybody knows you can get a crown and a vacation for a week. I have seen gall bladders stones removed in a couple of hours and patients sent home within a weekend.

  12. Anonymous says:

    another prime of example why uk should step in full time…
    why is dwayne still inoffice and has not been releived of his position???

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry to say but we really do need direct rule as we are headed for a disaster next year.

      We do not have the capability on island to solve our BIG problems.

      • Anonymous says:

        That light at the end of the tunnel is a speeding train. In 6 months you can’t afford yourselves.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A substantial part of the $100 million is being spent to provide for the healthcare of foreign nationals, often in breach of Cayman law, but hey – no one seems to care. It’s not like anyone is responsible for protecting the public’s money or anything.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lets not jump on the foreigner bandwagon. Straight up, Caymanians don’t pay their bills from the HSA so they have 60-70 million in accounts receivable. Healthcare is not free.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is for the thousand of foreign nationals and others who do not have health insurance required by Cayman law.

  14. Healthy says:

    $100 million on the indigent and under insured, how much for our thousands of civil servants and their dependents?. At this rate half our Govt revenue will go on health costs!.

    • Anonymous says:

      when will the private sector get its act together. Poorly run pension and health insurance plans. While the civil service has a world class pension plan and the best health insurance in the world.

      Come on private sector you can do better.

      • Hubert says:

        Just like in America the private sector health insurance industry cannot do better unless you are upper income.

      • Anonymous says:

        World class pension plan! In terms of benefits sure. In terms of adequate funding…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read the article? Why are you blaming civil servants for everything?

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they do not enforce the health insurance law and allow hundreds of persons to settle here every year in the certain knowledge that the government will have to pick up the tab if they fall ill.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Another glorious day in our world class Civil Service.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman islands will not go bankrupt.The Cayman island Government will be bankrupt for all the right reasons. I hope the UK is getting ready to step in.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh Mother in London, save us from our financial selves.

      We are headed to financial disaster next year if Mother does not move in.

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you expect?? Jon Jon can hardy speak. How on earth is he going to manage millions of dollars ???

  17. Anonymous says:

    One easy solution would be to stop forcing people on the island to choose from the poor offerings from local insurers. All local policies are woefully inadequate, or ridiculously overpriced, and most likely both. Policies can be had from international insurers for a cheaper premium with much better benefits. Allow local people to pick from a wider range of policies and the local insurers will either have to start becoming competitive or leave the market. My family has a great policy from a US insurer with top rates of benefits, everything covered and premiums just over half what I pay for the minimum policy here in Cayman that covers almost nothing and rarely pays out. But I’m forced to have it by law even though its useless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you advise who your provider is? I’ve struggled to find such a plan but would do so in a heartbeat with the right provider.

      • Anonymous says:

        Try IMG Global. They even covered several pre-existing conditions that the local insurers wouldn’t cover.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m not the person who asked, but I’m looking for an insurer too, so thank you!
          Anybody here using VUMI? I’ve had them recommended and would love to hear from people who’re using them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just don’t have a pre-existing condition. So many people in Cayman are classified as having pre-existing conditions. COVID is now considered a preexisting condition in America by private health insurance companies.

    • Mixed Caymanian says:

      Opening up the market to international insurers is an excellent idea. Solves the choice issue, creates competition in a stagnant marketplace, and the insane profit that some of the health insurers are receiving from the local pond will either dry up or be justified by excellent access to providers as well as outstanding customer service (something that many companies in Cayman severely lack).

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great to know that the Minister sees one of the biggest problems facing CIG as a “pet peeve”. 2021 soon come.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:57 pm
      As long as there are freebies – money a free food the vote is paid for. Enjoy the ride.

  19. Socialist says:

    Setup a decent public health service, private business are more interested in their wealth than in our health.
    There are plenty of examples of successfuls models worldwide (get everybody to contribute same as you do now, but instead to a health insurance, to the healthcare system), just need to look somewhere else that is not the US.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s the problem. Cayman refuses to look elsewhere. Every model must come from a “first world country” failing to see that not everything that glitters is gold.

      • Hubert says:

        Just don’t look at the American model. Many other models from EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are all much better than the American health insurance model. Of course, if you are upper income then the American model is fine. When money is of no concern the American system is great.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Not sure what the answer is but it’s not CINICO for everyone. Never had anything but problems with cinico and plenty of problems with the HSA services they force you to use.

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