National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Chairman Dr. Robin Roberts yesterday assured that the authority intends to address all of Cabinet’s concerns about the funding of National Health Insurance before the month ends.
“Cabinet wants to be assured that there will be no shortfalls in the funding of NHI,” Roberts said.
“They wanted to be sure [since] the government [is] taking on the load now, since the government is also an employer…and also because we have increased the business license requirement from [$150,000 to $250,000 in revenue for businesses]. It meant now there will be a greater proportion of individuals who can now be under NHI, so that would’ve also been an increased amount accosted to the government.
“The government just wants us to make sure that our calculations, that our projections for the government cost are as accurate as possible.”
When asked if the authority intends to have the projections ready before the end of the first quarter, Roberts said, “Absolutely.”
The NHIA has pegged the cost of NHI at $130 million per year.
It will be funded by contributions from businesses.
The NHIA estimates that the annual premium per employee would be $1,000 or $84 per month.
Employees earning more than $66,667 will pay the entire premium.
The authority presented its recommendations to Cabinet on February 19.
While a date has not been set, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said it is likely NHIA will have to present its proposal again.
“It is simply a matter of there are conversations that are being had,” Sands said.
“This is a very important matter… We’re talking about a significant national initiative that has far reaching consequences and we are determined to get it right and to that end it requires diligence. But we will not simply accept a proposal without dissecting it and ensuring that it is appropriate.”
He said the NHI proposal has not been rejected by Cabinet and a decision will be made once it is fine-tuned.
Roberts said Cabinet has asked the authority to continue meeting with the Ministry of Finance so it can verify the cost projections for NHI.
He said the NHIA has already had “quite a number of meetings” with the Ministry of Finance.
“I think we are all in agreement in terms of verifying what the projected costs of NHI will be and in terms of what the projected costs of NHI will be for the government,” the chairman said.
“It is just a matter of making sure that we are all in agreement in terms of the accuracy of the figures. The only thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that the government wanted to be sure.
“I have every reason to believe that the government is attempting to make good on its commitment to advance National Health Insurance to a level which the Bahamian people would like to see it.”
More than 160,000 individuals are expected to receive coverage from NHI when the program is launched July 2020.