Bahamas: PM Hints At Possible NHI Delay

By Jones Bahamas
Prime Minister Perry Christie recently hinted to a possible delay of the roll-out of National Health Insurance (NHI), telling reporters that Hurricane Matthew threw quite a curveball at the government.
The scheme’s primary care phase was slated to be rolled out sometime in January.
However, during a recent tour of the Public Hospital Authority’s new Supply Management Facility, Prime Minister Christie, while shying away from giving a direct answer, instead inferred that there would be some delay due to hurricane damage at facilities.
“Matthew obviously poses a problem in that a lot of the facilities have had some levels of damage. We have done the assessments for government buildings. We have a committee that I chair that has met with respect to immediate repairs,” Mr. Christie said.
The prime minister went on to again stress the importance of pushing ahead with the universal health care plan.
“In the organizing of healthcare and in the distribution of services, so we can minimize the extent in which we have to enter into a debate in the 21st century as to whether we have adequate medical personnel on a particular island, or whether we have the capacity to service these islands with pharmaceuticals must be put to rest.
“That is why National Health Insurance is intended to more effectively introduce levels of efficiency and effectiveness in this country that would make us much more accountable to ourselves and the Bahamian people,” Mr. Christie said.
The concept of NHI has been met with its fair share of criticism.
In August, FNM senator and noted physician Dr. Duane Sands likened the plan to “medical apartheid.”
Fort Charlotte Member of Parliament (MP) Dr. Andre Rollins also bashed the government’s plan to implement NHI accusing them of trying to roll out something that already exists.
Dr. Rollins, during debate in the Lower Chamber on the NHI legislation, said Bahamians are already receiving health services free of charge.
Critics also believe the $24 million allotted for NHI’s catastrophic fund is insufficient and will only help 30 people at maximum.
The government estimates that currently approximately 70 percent of Bahamians do not have health insurance.
Officials estimate that the average Bahamian household pays approximately $2,300 per year out of pocket on health care.

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