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BIA responds to KPMG Economic Impact Assessment of NHI Primary Care Phase

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in Press Releases | Comments Off on BIA responds to KPMG Economic Impact Assessment of NHI Primary Care Phase

The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) remains in full support of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and welcomes the opportunity to work with the government to expand the existing UHC system within The Bahamas. The KPMG document entitled Investing in health – An economic and qualitative analysis of the impacts of the primary care phase of NHI in The Bahamas makes interesting reading. While the document is quite academic and idealistic, it also contains common sense conclusions based on what can be expected if we commit ourselves to true comprehensive healthcare reform. The caveats in the document which implicitly highlight the correlation between good governance and strengthening of the public primary healthcare system are also noteworthy. There is a school of thought that KPMG is conflicted in conducting an economic impact assessment on an NHI scheme for which it serves as the primary consultant. This viewpoint zeros in on the fact that the firm has received and continues to receive significant fees for extensive services provided vis-à-vis the implementation of NHI. Hence, it is almost unrealistic to expect KPMG to objectively criticize a plan for which it is one the main architects or suggest that the overall impact on the economy will not be extremely positive. In this regard, while the partnership with Cambridge Econometrics is helpful in addressing this concern, a totally independent study would have been preferable. An independent collaborative assessment with the private sector would have also dispelled the notion that KPMG was influenced or pressured by the Government to produce a document which endorses its plans in a politically charged environment and justifies the current approach. Nevertheless, there is some useful information in the document and it seems to confirm that the benefits of primary care will be seen in the medium to long term. The document notes that “over the course of a generation, the primary care phase of NHI will be producing an additional $500 million a year in additional GDP”. It will be helpful if the detailed assumptions used in arriving at the conclusions within the report are shared with experts within the stakeholder community to facilitate a meaningful dialogue. The commentary on Page 2 of the document which suggests that free, accessible and modern primary care services will be offered to residents should be qualified and clarified. This statement suggests that “free” healthcare will be provided to all residents and fails to clarify that individuals with primary care benefits under their private health insurance plan will not receive these “free” services per the legislation. Additionally, the report fails to acknowledge that there are no “modern primary care facilities” in The Bahamas and there is a dire need for the Government to focus on the strengthening and modernization of their 90 plus clinics across our archipelago of islands prior to the rollout of the primary care phase. Per the report, “Firms are also likely to see a slower rate of growth in private health insurance premiums for staff. This commentary seems bold as it assumes that there will be viable private health insurance plans and the risk pool will be healthier in spite of the implications of Section 21 of the NHI Act. KPMG was right in stating that it is difficult to estimate the impact of the primary care phase on government finances...

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BIA Celebrates Insurance Month

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in BIA In The News, Gallery | Comments Off on BIA Celebrates Insurance Month

In recognition of the substantial role played by the insurance industry in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Perry Christie designated October Insurance Month. Each year, the Bahamas Insurance Association, the Insurance Institute of the Bahamas, the Bahamas Insurance Brokers & Agents, and the Insurance Commission organise a series of activities to raise public awareness of the importance of insurance. The month’s activities kicked off on October 2 with a special service at St. Matthew’s Church followed by a luncheon at Mosaic in the Atlantis Resort. And October 3 was designated Insurance Day – when these pictures were taken. During the month, industry leaders paid a courtesy call on the governor-general, appeared on a TV talk show, and a reception at the Green Parrot Restaurant. A highlight of the month’s activities was an art competition open to all primary and secondary school students. Winners are pictured from left: first place in the senior school category, Cory Hamilton of C. C. Sweeting; first place in the junior school category, Zia Joos of Windsor Preparatory; and second place in the senior school category, Darjanique Green of CC Sweeting. The BIA is a trade association of 30 licensed insurance companies, brokerages, adjusters and agencies. BIA members deal in property, casualty, long-term life and health insurance. The BIA represents the interests of the insurance industry (which employs thousands of Bahamians) and seeks to uphold ethical business practices. READ MORE...

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Winners of BIA Insurance Month Art Competition

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 in Gallery | Comments Off on Winners of BIA Insurance Month Art Competition

Insurance Month Art Competition...

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Tips for Making a Claim for a Hurricane Loss

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in Press Releases | Comments Off on Tips for Making a Claim for a Hurricane Loss

Following are some tips to assist you in claiming a benefit under your insurance policy: Contact your agent as quickly as possible. If you are unable to contact your agent but know which company they placed your insurance with, then contact the company. Confirm the phone number for your agent/insurer beforehand and keep it handy for use in the event you have a loss. Although your agent should have a copy of your insurance policy, please find your copy of the policy and read it. Tell your agent if you’re in an emergency situation. In The Bahamas, flooding caused by a hurricane is included as part of your hurricane cover. Policies usually pay for temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage and either the actual value or the replacement value of the damaged property. Many policies will also pay for removing building debris so repairs can be made, but they will not pay for clearing landscaping and garden debris. Unless instructed otherwise by your insurer, only make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your home or business. Don’t make permanent repairs without consulting them first. An insurance adjuster or a representative of the insurance company will visit your home or business. With the number of claims being presented, this may not take place immediately. Please appreciate that your insurer has engaged the assistance of qualified and capable adjusters and they are presently working 24/7 to meet this extraordinary demand. It is our hope that you will be contacted by an adjuster as quickly as possible following your initial contact with your insurer or agent but if this does not occur, please contact your insurer. Please be certain that you have provided a contact number that can be answered at all times. Before the adjuster arrives, prepare a list of all damaged and destroyed property. The list should include: a description of the item date of purchase cost at time of purchase present replacement cost (If you have cancelled cheques or receipts for these items, collect them to show the adjuster) It is a good idea to take photographs or videos of the damaged areas. If possible, get a detailed estimate for repairs. Keep all receipts for all work done on your home or property. The exaggeration or inflation of your claim could make you liable for fraud and will only lead to delays whilst the insurer waits for the appointed adjuster to work out the true cost of having the work done. If you are applying for financial support or exemptions from the Government and/or National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), you will be required to disclose details of your insurance coverage and all insurance settlements. You might get more than one cheque from your insurers, as some policies will allow part payment of claims, with a later cheque once the full repairs costs have been agreed or carried out. If you encounter any difficulty with your claim being settled, ask to speak with the management of your agent/insurer. Only after you have exhausted all means of appeal with your agent/insurer should you consider contacting the Insurance Commission of The Bahamas for their assistance. Failure to exhaust your agents/insurers complaints process will result in the Insurance Commission referring you back to your...

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Insurance claim payments not hindered by deductibles

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Press Releases | Comments Off on Insurance claim payments not hindered by deductibles

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, there has been much discussion about catastrophe deductibles for property covers in particular, and the adjudication and payment of insurance claims. More specifically, there seems to be a misconception or misunderstanding about how deductibles work and the settlement of claims by insurance companies. It is important to reiterate that the insurance industry has commenced the receipt and processing of claims filed. The payment of insurance claims by local insurance companies will not be hindered by the ability of an insured individual to come up with the deductible amount. Typically, deductibles are incorporated into insurance policy contracts and represent the amount of expenses that an insured will have to pay out-of-pocket in the event of a claim. This payment is not made to the insurance company and does not prevent the insurer from meeting its obligation under the policy contract. As an example, let’s assume that the cost of damage to a person’s fully insured property as a result of Hurricane Matthew is $100,000 and the value of the property is $300,000 with a catastrophe or hurricane deductible of 2%. In this instance, the deductible will be $6,000 and the insurance company will be obligated to pay $94,000. The payment of the $94,000 by the insurer to repair the damaged property is not subject to the ability of the insured individual to pay the $6,000 deductible. Our objective as an industry is to ensure that our clients get the money they are contractually entitled to receive as soon as possible so that they can begin to rebuild their lives. This goal is not impacted or delayed in any way by the existence of deductibles. Deductibles do not give rise to a wait or waiting period before insured individuals receive funds due to them by insurers. There is a direct correlation between the deductible amount and the premium amount. Deductibles enable the insurance industry to offer relatively cheaper premium rates to consumers and ipso facto keep insurance premi-ums down. In essence and all things being equal, the higher the deductible, the lower the...

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BIA Attends Church Service to Mark Insurance Week 2016

Posted by on Oct 2, 2016 in Gallery | Comments Off on BIA Attends Church Service to Mark Insurance Week 2016

BIA Executives and Members attend St. Matthew’s Anglican Church on October 2, 2016 to mark the commencement of Insurance Week...

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Will NHI Reduce your private health insurance premiums?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in BIA In The News, Press Releases | Comments Off on Will NHI Reduce your private health insurance premiums?

It has been stated by the Minister of Health as well as members of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Secretariat on a number of occasions that with the introduction of NHI, the insured public should expect that their private health insurance premiums would decrease. In Au-gust 2016, Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez was quoted as saying that NHI gives “… you an opportunity to renegotiate your private plan so that you are able to only pay for the services not currently included under NHI. This may not only reduce the cost of your plans, but may allow a greater number of Bahamians access to private health insurance at the lower rates.”1 Is this really so? Quality of medical provider network Private health insurers have to provide services that consumers are willing to pay for. Accordingly, private insurers operate in a very different environment than the Government who can compel you to pay taxes notwithstanding public concern about the type and manner of services that are delivered. At this time, private health insurers have reason to be concerned about the breadth and quality of the net-work of medical providers that will sign on to deliver NHI benefits. Should many of our customer’s medical providers not sign-on to NHI, insurers will face demands to continue to provide primary care services. Private Health Insurance to remain as the Primary payer The NHI legislation that has been passed by Parliament also makes it less likely that NHI will reduce private health insurance premiums. Section 21 of the NHI Act states that where an individual has private health in-surance, the private health insurer will be the primary payer. Therefore, one can expect that health insur-ance premium costs will remain as is given that the law directs that privately insured individuals must claim against their private plan, as long as the NHI benefits are covered under those plans. It is important to note that this was a conscious choice that the Government made. Had they made NHI the primary payer, they could have credibly claimed that the law should reduce the cost of health insurance. In evaluating these two significant points, one must ask again, is the current NHI model the correct model for The Bahamas? Will it really achieve equal access to quality care? Will it reduce the cost of health insur-ance? Is the public being misled by the promises being made regarding what NHI is providing and the sup-posed advantages of such a program? It is of great concern that the Minister of Health’s statement is wrong, and that NHI may not decrease the cost of private health insurance at...

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BIA Challenges KPMG on Stakeholder Engagement and Transparency

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Press Releases | Comments Off on BIA Challenges KPMG on Stakeholder Engagement and Transparency

The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) remains in full support of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and welcomes the opportunity to work with the government to expand the existing UHC system within The Bahamas. We are mindful that in spite of the continuous voicing of our support for UHC over the past two years, there continues to be a carefully orchestrated plan to silence the voices of reason and dismiss genuine concerns about the proposed scheme. We note the recent comments attributed to Dr. Mark Britnell of KPMG in relation to the costing of the first phase of National Health Insurance (NHI) and stakeholder engagement. While the BIA may not share his perception of the state of NHI stakeholder engagement, we are hopeful that the newly established UHC Stakeholder Advisory Council will not be a rubber stamp but will one day evolve into a vehicle for meaningful input by stakeholders. The recently released NHI Policy Paper when compared with similar documents on an important national issue such as UHC/NHI from other jurisdictions is lacking in substance. The Policy Paper is akin to marketing material or a brochure rather than a document that provides a detailed roadmap for UHC and NHI in The Bahamas. It falls short of our expectations, is quite disappointing and fails to meet the higher levels of transparency and disclosure alluded to by Dr. Britnell. Dr. Britnell is a well-spoken and respected individual in the field of UHC; the BIA recognizes that his high profile provides the Government with much needed endorsement for its plans. However, we are also acutely aware that KPMG is a well paid consultant of the Government with the task of launching NHI into a reality. This constrains us to take some of their comments with a pinch of salt when compared with the observations of their predecessors and other experts in the field. The BIA’s position on the establishment of a public insurer is clear and has been articulated on numerous occasions. Based on feedback received from government consultants and officials involved in NHI, it is clear that the establishment of a public insurer is political in nature and has no economic justification. Dr. Britnell stated that he had recently met with “senior leaders in the insurance profession”. We wish to state for the record that there was no meeting between the BIA and KPMG, Dr. Britnell in particular, last week as suggested. The BIA is the umbrella body for the private insurance sector in The Bahamas. Inquiries made to the main private health insurers by the BIA leave us in the dark as to with whom that meeting took place. In the spirit of the transparency, responsiveness and true consultation espoused by Dr. Britnell, the BIA is requesting the immediate release of KPMG’s costing report on the primary healthcare phase of NHI. This is extremely important to ensure full disclosure on the assumptions supporting their conclusions on the cost including but not limited to fees to be paid to healthcare providers, administration costs and utilization rates built into their costing model. We are advised that negotiations on capitation and administration fees are at preliminary stages and in some cases have not yet commenced. Hence, it is unclear how the overall cost was verified or validated unless the government plans to present its...

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Government urged to roll out UHC initiatives in a pragmatic manner and with full understanding of macroeconomic indicators

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Press Releases | Comments Off on Government urged to roll out UHC initiatives in a pragmatic manner and with full understanding of macroeconomic indicators

We should proceed in a manner that is fiscally responsible so as not to trigger a downgrade The recent announcement by Moody’s that it was reviewing The Bahamas’ credit rating and considering a downgrade has attracted much discourse. What does this mean in the context of our journey to Universal Health Care (UHC) in The Bahamas? You may recall that just over a year ago, it was reported that Moody’s had warned that NHI and low economic growth levels would “complicate the [fiscal] consolidation”. According to reports, Moody’s had expressed fears that the Government’s NHI plans may create “upward pressure” on recurrent (fixed cost) spending: “The second important challenge is the implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) programme in 2016…Authorities have stated that they will not levy new taxes to fund this programme, which will require the reallocation of expenditures to the NHI and could create upward pressure on expenditures.”   Moody’s, June, 2015 The decision not to finance NHI via new or increased taxes had been confirmed by the Prime Minister and is reflected in the 2016/17 budget. The Prime Minister had stated that “the budget allocation for the Ministry of Health reflects an investment in primary care coverage and health systems’ strengthening…” It is unclear from the budget figures how much additional funds have been allocated to UHC in this regard and whether Moody’s concerns persist. A review of the Ministry of Health’s Budget appears to show some increase in certain line items and reallocation or repurposing of existing expenditure in others (see table below). The BIA is hopeful that The Bahamas will be able to avoid a downgrade by Moody’s and maintain its current sovereign credit rating. The fallout from any negative revision to our rating as a country will be far-reaching and impact the private sector as a whole. In this regard, we cannot afford to ignore or discount Moody’s expressed concerns about the upward pressure NHI could put on government expenditure. This is why the phasing in of UHC over a reasonable and practical period of time is extremely important to ensure that we don’t put the economy at risk while pursuing what is no doubt a noble objective of expanding access to quality healthcare by our people. It can be argued that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a journey more than it is a destination. After all, the UK’s UHC system (through the NHS) is still challenged and evolving after almost 70 years. There is much ground to cover and there are several lessons to be learned along the way. While we can try as much as possible to minimize the number of errors we make in implementation OF UHC programmes by learning from the shortcomings of other nations to date, it is not unrealistic to expect some missteps as we seek to expand our UHC system. Following commentaries from various stakeholders and having realized that the economy cannot absorb or afford the initially proposed NHI scheme, the Government seemed to have scaled back its ambitions. The renewed focus on UHC rather than the proposed funding mechanism of NHI appears to have been motivated by this realization. Additionally, the modifications to the initial NHI model over the past year seem to vindicate stakeholders that have advocated for a more pragmatic approach to the...

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BIA Joins United Healthcare Reform Alliance (UHRA)

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in BIA In The News, Press Releases | Comments Off on BIA Joins United Healthcare Reform Alliance (UHRA)

In a game-changing move toward meaningful negotiation and sustainable reform, the BIA joined the United Healthcare Reform Alliance (UHRA). The organization is a coalition of 9 medical, allied health and insurance groups which came together to propose a comprehensive proposal for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) that makes better sense for The Bahamas than the current NHI model. View news segment from NB12 / Our...

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