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New healthcare fees may start July 1

The Ministry of Health has proposed the introduction of revised fees in the healthcare system that would go into effect on July 1, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.

“We have piloted or trialed it and we will probably incorporate some of the changes of the new fee proposal into the budgetary allocation moving forward as of July 1, 2019,” Sands said.

He said the new fee structure would lead to as much as $40 million in annual revenue for the public healthcare system.

When asked what was the forecasted amount of revenue expected from these fees in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, Sands said, “I don’t have an answer that is valid and there’s no point in me making up a number.”

He added: “…As we look at the budget process now, we would’ve defended the Ministry of Health’s proposal at the Ministry of Finance. Finance will then make recommendations to the Cabinet of The Bahamas.

“That’s probably when the big discussion will take place because budgets are reflective of the priorities of the government.”

The minister said the existing fee structure results in the government spending roughly $400 million for the medical expenses of Bahamians at international hospitals each year.

“The existing fee structure only allows the hospital, the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand, which are the only places that have an Intensive Care Unit, to bill less than 20 percent than what it costs for the same bed at a private intensive care unit in New Providence,” Sands said.

“If you’re looking at Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the most that we can charge is $80 a night. If Jasper Ward’s child is in the Intensive Care Unit and has major medical insurance, our existing fee schedule only allows us to charge $80 for that bed.

“If you then transfer your child to Jo DiMaggio [Children’s Hospital] in Florida, your insurance company, [the] same insurance company will pay $5,000 a night. How does that make sense?”

Sands announced the changes in December 2017, noting that there were more than 500 recommended changes to the present fee structure.

After some pushback when part of the new fee structure was announced, Sands noted that the PHA (Public Hospitals Authority) was on track for a $50 million to $60 million deficit, and the changes were going to happen.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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