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Report to the Nation: TCI NHIP underfunded as lifestyle diseases costs soar, overdue report to reveal if contributions will increase

Photo by Jean Sagesse

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – April 24, 2018 – In a report due to be completed by the end of May is where the nation will find out if the cost of contributions to the National Health Insurance Board should or will be increased to help stymie the year on year shortfalls of the social health care plan.

The Premier and Finance Minister, Hon Sharlene Robinson on Monday led a delegation of officials from the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Board in a nationally aired press conference which exposed progresses at the beleaguered entity.

Premier Sharlene Robinson, in opening said: “I have started the overdue actuarial review of the National Health Insurance Board, the results of which will form and inform key government decisions.  Our Government has ensured financial support of the National Health Insurance Board to the tune of $12m.  Ten million of which has already been dispersed in the recently passed supplementary budget.”

The NHIP has been running a deficit budget for the past three years and it is costing TCI tax payers $12m to bail out the health care plan.

“These funds have been used to significantly reduce the organization’s liabilities to its local and overseas providers.  At this point the National Health Insurance Board is 70 to 80% of clearing all outstanding liabilities for the financial year 2017-2018.  The remaining 20% should be completed by the end of April 2018.”

The reason for the overrun at the NHIB, which in the Statutory Board Review was recommended to be dismantled, is – among other things – the surging cost to the Plan of medical treatment overseas for thousands of patients; 70 to 80% of which are Turks and Caicos Islanders.

“The average total expenditure for the National Health Insurance Board over the last three years is $61 million.  Hospital related payments accounted for about 51% of the average NHIP expenditure, followed by Treatment Abroad with 35%, pharmaceutical and local provider costs averaged about six percent and two percent respectively,” said Delton Jones, Chairman of the NHIP Board, who added later that, “This is indicative of the persistent under funding of the NHIP at a time when there has been increasing health care costs.”

The National Health Insurance Plan is reviewed in the Stephen Turnbull report as unsustainable, that it should be absorbed into the Ministry of Health.  However, Cabinet Ministers rejected the idea and voted ‘no’ to the recommendation.  The Premier tried to quell the fears of the 30 staffers at the NHIP.

“Let us not for one minute think that nothing is happening at the National Health Insurance Board. Our government has been working alongside the Board to fix the issues and turn the organization around, we are fixing it and we are committed to fixing the National Health Insurance Board.  Premier Robinson said to the staff, with whom she plans to meet soon that “I personally wish to thank them for their dedication and  assure them that the National Health Insurance Board is here and that my government is committed to their well being.  We recognize that they have a pivotal role in turning the organization around and will be a part of all key decisions…”

The long overdue Actuarial Report is but one of the advancements currently underway to reveal the truest state of the NHIP; it was also announced that the Health Regulatory Agency (HRA) is nearing launch and Desiree Lewis, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health shared that there is a roll out plan.

“We have in place the CEO, as the Minister mentioned… it (the HRA) should have been in place prior to the opening of the Hospitals, unfortunately that did not progress in the manner in which it should have but we are now closer – closer meaning we have established an implementation plan which we should be rolling out within the next four to six months, before December.”

P.S. Lewis explained that the HRA is currently seeking a location, will bring on staff and will eventually manage and monitor all health facilities within the Turks and Caicos Islands.  The HRA will also have auditing power over the National Health Insurance Plan.

The National Health Insurance Plan, as explained by Chairman of the Board, Delton Jones started collecting contributions in 2009 with a current enrolment of 33,218 members, which includes dependents.

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