BPSU applauds expanded NIB coverage
The government’s decision to expand the drug plan to the entire public service was applauded yesterday by Bahamas Public Services Union president John Pinder.
But Pinder said that while the development was a step in the right direction, it was hoped that the expansion would eventually include quasi-government agencies like the Airport Authority, Gaming Board, Mortgage Corporation, the College of The Bahamas, and the Nassau Airport Development Company.
“We want to ensure that those staffers are able to enjoy the very same benefits and we would like to believe that this is the first step in providing all civil servants with health insurance. Certainly, this will take some of the burden off the health plan that we have, where a number of our members are paying for prescription drugs. We certainly are very pleased the government has made this decision,”he toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.
Pinder said the BPSU looked forward in its negotiations to actually introducing health insurance to the entire public service.
“We have already presented a proposed new industrial agreement in which we asked for health insurance,”Pinder said.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham made the disclosure about the National Insurance Board(NIB) drug plan in the House of Assembly on Thursday while wrapping up debate on the two resolutions facilitating the sale of the majority shares of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company to Cable and Wireless Communications.
Ingraham explained that the coverage to the public service also included police officers, prison officers, employees of the industrial schools and defence force personnel.
Yesterday, National Insurance Director Algernon Cargill confirmed that NIB had received the green light for the expansion.
“We are presently preparing to expand the drug plan with all the additional groups that the prime minister outlined in his presentation. These will be automatically covered and we are preparing to add them as beneficiaries to the plan also,”Cargill said.
The drug plan was implemented in 2010. In the first phase of the program, prescriptions are provided free of charge to NIB pensioners, NIB invalids, Bahamian citizens over 65 years of age who are not eligible to receive an NIB pension and children under 18 years of age, or full-time students under 25.
The list of illnesses covered include arthritis, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol, hypertension, ischemic, heart disease, major depression, prostate cancer and psychosis.
Cargill said the new recipients would qualify for medication related to any of the 11 diseases without cost.
While Ingraham did not disclose the cost of the expansion, Cargill said it was covered under the budget for this year.
“The budget for the plan is$11 million and we are covering that within the budget for the plan for this year,”he said.