TCI pension funds may be in jeopardy if used to fund healthcare

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

According to reports in the TCI Press, the Government there is planning on using funds from the National Insurance Board (NIB) and National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) in order to provide cash assets to fund the territory’s costly health care plan. But according to reports, this situation is unsustainable and with the NHIP being the largest single item of expenditure, the Fund is creating unmanageable budget deficits which cost the territory $61.5 million per year.

TCI News reported that in an ad hoc statement by health minister Porsha Stubbs Smith, Smith did confirmed that there would likely be a “merging of the funds” and not a  blending of the two separate funds. The reports of “unaffordable health care costs” in the TCI have been a major political and social space of contention and debate since the health plan began in April 2010. NHIP has to date cost the TCI taxpayers $220 million dollars.

The reports suggest that the fund is already partially blended and that this is too costly a venture to the territory’s taxpayers. Reports further indicate that the sustainability for the NIB to continue on the current path is questionable. The NIB is said to be in a situation where receipts are lower than pension and disability disbursements. Tax experts believe that should there be a merger, the NIB and NHIP taxes will be raised from the combined 14% total to as much as 22%.

Spokespersons out of TCI suggest that the NIB assets are approximately $125 million, which by itself could pay for health care for two years outside of its responsibility to pay retiree pensions. Other concerns cited include “the substandard level of care, the rise in accumulated co-pays and the cost of prescription drugs”.

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