The popularity of National Health Insurance (NHI) has increased significantly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following an initial downturn in enrollment as Bahamians took lockdown measures to fight the pandemic, enrollment numbers have surged. A record number of Bahamians have successfully enrolled in NHI to gain access to a family doctor and laboratory testing free of charge at the point of service. Overall in 2020, NHI enrollment numbers have increased close to 20 percent. Since the launch of NHI in April 2016, over 85,000 Bahamians and residents have enrolled in NHI, which represents about 30 percent of Bahamians who do not have private health insurance.
Dr. Robin Roberts, chairman of the National Health Insurance Authority Board, said: “We know NHI enjoys strong support among Bahamians. However, the growth in enrollment during the pandemic has exceeded our expectations. We had expected the switch from in-person to online and telephone enrollment would affect enrollment and while this was initially true, as the pandemic has gone on our enrollment has reached record levels.”
Asked why he thought NHI’s popularity increased during the pandemic, Dr. Roberts added: “I think everyone has been forced to focus on their health and the health of those around them. I believe it has helped focus attention on the need for individuals to be proactive in looking after and improving their health. Indeed the extremely high rates of non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, in The Bahamas, make Bahamians more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 and this focuses people on their health. NHI is truly a Bahamian success story, moving the Bahamas towards universal healthcare.”
NHI expects to see continued growth in enrollment as the pandemic continues. The organization is currently taking steps to increase the number of family doctors enrolled in the program to support its new beneficiaries. People interested in enrolling in NHI should visit www.nhibahamas.gov.bs or call 396-8500 for assistance.
Established in April 2017, the National Health Insurance Authority’s (NHIA) aim is to achieve a shared goal of universal health care. NHI Bahamas aims to ensure that all legal Bahamian residents, no matter income, age, the island of residence or current health status, can receive affordable and accessible health care. There are currently over 85,000 beneficiaries enrolled in National Health Insurance, accessing services through over 90 providers across Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and New Providence. For more information on NHI Bahamas, visit www.nhibahamas.gov.bs.