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No new tax for reformed NHI

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday proposed that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) undergo a series of reforms that will “effectively and efficiently” address primary care challenges in The Bahamas.

Minnis said it will cost $110 million to deliver the initiative in 2025.

“We are referring to these reforms as NHI (National Health Insurance) 1.1,” Minnis, who serves as minister of health, said in the House of Assembly.

“This initiative is estimated to save the government of The Bahamas approximately $62 million over the next five years. It will require no additional taxation or employer mandate, which would have included a mandated insurance premium and will mean minimal disruption to the private health insurance industry.”

He said the initiative will ensure that Bahamian citizens and residents have “consistent access” to family doctors without a co-pay or deductible.

“NHI 1.1 will be funded by the savings created by consolidating and reorganizing programs to eliminate identified inefficiencies in the primary healthcare system,” Minnis said.

“The NHI 1.1 framework integrates primary care program delivery under the existing NHI model by establishing a single standard primary care health benefit for all Bahamians and residents.

“This benefit will include existing NHI coverage for visits to a family doctor, laboratory tests, as well as new diagnostic imaging services, cancer-screening programs and an emphasis on patient-centered care. 

“The NHIA will engage all providers of these benefits on a contractual basis, and all services will be made available without co-pays or deductibles. The changes will integrate the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) primary care clinics under the NHI model.

“It will extend the benefit of an electronic health record to all Bahamians and residents, and implement the NHI quality program for all primary healthcare facilities in both the public and private sector[s].”

The prime minister said the Ministry of Health and the PHA are engaging private sector capacity through public-private partnerships.

“With its innovative contractual reimbursements with private providers, NHI 1.1 will emerge as a model public-private partnership where public funding seeks to harness and leverage the efficiency, creativity, responsiveness and accountability of a privately delivered healthcare service,” he said.

“Over the near term, NHI will commence detailed planning discussions and mobilize a project transformation office in co-ordination with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Public Hospitals Authority.

“Shortly, thereafter, NHI will once again undertake formal stakeholder consultations, which will allow Bahamians to have meaningful input to the proposal.”

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