National Health Insurance (NHI) is set to cost the government nearly $10 million more than what was budgeted in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.
According to Sands, NHI was allocated $20 million in the budget presented to Parliament last July.
“Due to the steady increase in the number of beneficiaries and the associated payments to health care providers and laboratories, NHI is forecast to spend approximately $29.7 million over the full 2019/20 financial year,” he said.
“This amount represents an increase of $13.6M or 84 percent from the previous fiscal year.
“This situation means NHI will require an additional approximately $9.7 million to meet its expenses.”
According to Sands, at the beginning of the fiscal year, NHI had approximately 55,000 enrolled beneficiaries.
However, he said NHI now has more than 73,000 enrolled beneficiaries, an increase since the start of the financial year of 33 percent.
“Indeed, NHI continues to grow its number of beneficiaries by three percent to five percent each month,” he said.
“By the end of this fiscal year, the number of NHI beneficiaries will approach 100,000 – close to 25 percent of the Bahamian population.”
Sands said that at the start of this financial year, approximately 70 percent of NHI’s expenses were going to health care providers and laboratories for the provision of services to NHI beneficiaries. However, he said NHI payments to health care providers and laboratories now total approximately $1.5 million each month, or roughly 80 percent of NHI’s total costs.
The remaining 20 percent covers NHI’s other activities and administration, he said.
The Christie administration introduced the enrollment and primary care phase of NHI on May 1, 2017.
It did so with no public insurer in place and no known means of funding the program.
The former government originally committed $24 million to catastrophic care, but soon said it recognized the need to increase it to as much as $30 million.
While the Minnis administration intends to expand the program, Sands said last year that the expansion won’t come until 2021.
According to the most recent plan for NHI, the program will be funded by contributions from businesses.
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) estimates that the annual premium per employee would be $1,000 per year or $84 per month.
Employees earning more than $66,667 will pay the entire premium.