September 20, 2021

The Editor Speaks: It is no surprise private sector pension and health insurers are failing Cayman and so is CINICO

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In the Legislative Assembly last Tuesday (14) the Finance Committee were discussing the thorny subject of insurance – pensions and especially health.

With the burden of the uninsured Cayman Islands citizens falling on government to address when they reach retirement age the current system cannot be allowed to continue.

These are not entirely my words, although I agree 100% with them, Premier Alden McLaughlin spoke them at the aforementioned Finance Committee meeting.

“I do not care how many reserves we build it up, it will not last very long when you have the kind of demands that we have. Government cannot continue to carry responsibility for every person in this country who does not have health insurance, the system cannot, cannot bear it,” he said.

He added that private sector pension and health insurance schemes are failing Cayman.

He should have added, “so is the government’s Cayman Islands National Insurance Company – CINICO.

What is ironic is thousands of public sector employees use private insurance coverage instead of CINICO. You can add to this many working in the government’s 19 statutory authorities and the seven government-owned companies.

My wife and I have to use CINICO along with approx. 15,000 Cayman Islands residents. All cicvil servants get FREE CINICO coverage whilst the rest of us, who the private insurance companies will not insure, because of our age and pre-existing health conditions (we are old for goodness sake) have to pay for it ourselves and even then CINICO does not cover 100% of the hospital bills. And every year we run out of CINICO’s 80% coverage because we have reached our limit!

The CINICO plan is actually more than the private sector’s and there is a reason for this. CINICO gets all of us who the Private Sector won’t cover.

People seem surprised at this. Why? Insurance companies are there to make a profit. They will insure those who are healthy not the ill and the old who are at a very high risk of becoming unhealthy.

Lonny Tibbetts, CINICO’s Chief Executive, told the Finance Committee, “The elderly people are being exposed. They’re being put out of the insurance plans and they’re being left on the streets without coverage. There’s nothing that forces that company to continue to insure that person.”

This isn’t knew. This fact and problem has been going on for years and nothing has been done about it.

“We’ve put CINICO in an untenable position,” said Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders.

I hope the “WE” means successive government because “we” the elderly have been banging this drum from the time we retired!

The only solution really is to make CINICO like the UK’s National Health Service where everybody who works pays into it until they retire. If persons what to have their own health coverage they can but they cannot opt out of contributing to CINICO.

Tibbetts is right when he said he’d never seen a monopoly a success and he still feels the private sector has a role to play. The problem is the role they’re playing now, and have been allowed to play is one sided totally in their favour.

It is therefore no surprise that the day of reckoning is here. Private sector pension and health insurers are failing Cayman and so is CINICO. They have done so for years. Now is the time to put a stop to it. And the government is the only one who can.

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