September 21, 2020

Health spending “out of control”

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(left to right) Dr Steve Tomlinson of Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital, Wil Pineau of the Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Ahearn, Ministry of Health, Mark Scotland, Minister of Health, Andria Dilbert, Cayman Islands Health Services, Dr Sidney Ebanks, President of Medical and Dental Society

Health Minister Hon. Mark Scotland has revealed civil servants medical bills are “ballooning out of control”.

And Mr Scotland says it’s high time the current scheme is scrapped and a cheaper alternative found.

It could mean that new starters with the Government may have to take up a lesser health plan instead of the current unlimited scheme to save money.

Speaking at the National Health Care Conference 2020, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Minister for Health and Environment, Youth and Sports, Honourable Mark Scotland, pointed to health care costs, which he says is a serious issue.

But James Watler, President of the Civil Service Association, said if government employees are expected to pay towards their health care they must be given a pay rise.

The Cayman Islands National Insurance Company, CINICO, provides health insurance coverage for civil servants.

Under the current health care system, CINICO, provides unlimited benefits to civil servants, under its Unlimited Benefit Plan for which all of the payment comes from the Government’s pocket.

The Health Minister said: “The biggest issue with health care is the Unlimited Benefit Plan.

“We have to find a way to revise the plan or have a new plan.”

The Minister explained that any attempt by the Government to alter or interfere with the already existing contractual obligations of CINICO to its civil servants could amount to a breach, and is therefore not an option.

He said: “It is difficult to reduce the current benefits offered under the plan, as it could create legal issues.

“That is a plan called the “open ended” plan, which is in addition to the Government taking care of the indigent.

“Private sector employees, [Non-Governmental], are required to pay half of the cost of their insurance cost, while the civil servants pay zero.”

A possible solution, which the Minister discussed, was a reduction in the coverage provided for future civil servants.

“The new civil servants coming in could see a reduced plan of benefit.” said Mr. Scotland.

James Watler. (Photo by GIS)

Mr. Scotland added that the cost of maintaining the current system of health care in the Cayman Islands is not sustainable.

The Minister also said that the cost of providing health care is “ballooning out of control’ as a result of other practices which can be avoided through proactive measures.

“People tend not to have a family physician and just turn up at the hospital.

“Sometimes people just call the hospital and see a specialist and that kind of service can cost a lot more.” said the Minister.

But Mr Watler said: “I need to look at the pros and cons before I can make a comment.

“There are persons who believe that civil servants are making fantastic salaries but that is a myth.

“A lot are not making salaries commensurate with their experience and qualifications.

“If the new civil servants are expected to pay a percentage of their health coverage then their salaries must be equivalent to those of similar positions in the private sector.”

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