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Poll shows strong support for NHI proposal

Seventy-eight percent of respondents surveyed in a recent Public Domain poll said they support the latest proposal for National Health Insurance (NHI), which proposes a monthly income contribution of 1.5 percent.

The poll took place between February 6 and February 18, 2019. It included 1,043 Bahamian residents and was conducted by market research firm Public Domain.

The results were released yesterday in a statement by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

“With regards to the National Health Insurance Authority’s policy proposal, over three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents support the proposal for NHI, which will ensure all Bahamians get access to a standard package of health benefits, including primary care, coverage for major cancers, dialysis and heart attacks,” said the NHIA.

A large majority of respondents also said they would also support the expansion of NHI to provide additional coverage.

“Eighty-seven percent of respondents support the expansion of NHI Bahamas to provide affordable coverage for high cost medical care, such as treatment for prevalent adult cancers and pediatric cancers, heart attack and dialysis with no co-pays or deductibles,” the statement said.

Last October, the NHIA released a policy paper titled “National Health Insurance: A Shared Responsibility”, which proposed a standard health benefit (SHB) package that would be guaranteed under NHI through private insurers.

It would also include an employer mandate that would see employers and employees share the funding of the plan.

However, following opposition from different stakeholders and 100 days of consultation, the NHIA proposed lowering the previously suggested two percent monthly income contribution to 1.5 percent and removing a 50/50 cap on salary deductions.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said universal healthcare should be paid for by a combination of government, employers and employees.

“This was higher among NHI beneficiaries, of which 65 percent of respondents said a combination of government, employees and employers should pay,” NHIA said.

The poll also revealed that there is widespread belief that all citizens should have access to affordable healthcare.

“Ninety-six percent of respondents supported the principle that all Bahamians should have access to affordable care, regardless of their personal health circumstances,” the statement said.

Additionally, there was a consensus that healthcare in the country is too expensive for the average Bahamian.

NHIA said, “In total, 91 percent of respondents completely agreed (83 percent) or somewhat agreed (8 percent) with the statement: ‘Current private health insurance plans are too expensive for average Bahamians.’

“In total, 91 percent of respondents completely agreed (86 percent) or somewhat agreed (5 percent) with the statement: ‘The cost of health or medical services without insurance is too expensive for the average Bahamian.’”

Fifty-five percent of those who were surveyed admitted that they had in the past decided not to access healthcare services when they were ill due to the cost.

According to NHIA, almost 50,000 beneficiaries are currently enrolled in NHI Bahamas.

The most recent proposal estimated that 170,000 people are eligible for standard health benefits.

NHIA Managing Director Graham Whitmarsh said in January that the scheme is now estimated to cost taxpayers $130 million annually.

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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