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Bahamas: Doctors, Insurers Told: Cut Fees For Viable Nhi

All doctors, healthcare facilities and insurers must cut their fees if the revised National Health Insurance (NHI) model is to succeed and be financially viable, a Cabinet minister has warned.

Dr Duane Sands, minister of health, told Tribune Business that “compromise” over service charges and pricing was required at “every step along the healthcare delivery pathway” for the NHI scheme to be sustainable.

In return, he said healthcare providers and insurers will gain access to a “massively expanded market” through NHI’s broadening of coverage to Bahamians who were previously unable to afford private medical coverage and/or go outside the public system.

“In order for this thing to be workable, there has to be compromise at every step along the healthcare delivery pathway,” Dr Sands confirmed to this newspaper. “It could certainly not exist if we maintain the cost structure we have now.

“The expectation is that everybody ought to look at shaving some part of their rack rate. That includes practitioners, insurers, insurance brokers; everybody along the path in exchange for a massively expanded market.

“When you’re talking about a market that is currently 33 percent, and could in short order be 55 percent and, ultimately at 90 percent depending on the pace of enrollment, I think this augurs well for every stakeholder in the delivery of healthcare services.” There was no mention of how much fees for both providers and healthcare facilities may have to be cut.

The NHI policy paper, released to kickstart public consultation on the revised scheme’s merits, underscores the Government’s belief that mandating private health insurance for all working Bahamians via a phased roll-out will expand coverage levels from the present one-third of the population to 55 percent by 2022.

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