NHIS defends national health insurance scheme

(Antigua Observer) The National Health Insurance Secretariat (NHIS) says there has been “much misinformation” about the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bahamas scheme, insisting that its implementation “is a major advancement in moving our country forward and taking care of our people”.

“This is not business as usual,” the NHIS said in a statement, adding that NHI Bahamas,” in short, is an initiative that will facilitate the provision of modern, accessible and affordable health care services to all legal residents in The Bahamas.

“More importantly, it recognizes the right of Bahamians to accessible and affordable, high quality, health care. In order to build a more modern and prosperous Bahamas, we must improve our healthcare system.”

NHIS said that at present, only one third of Bahamians have private health insurance and that the NHI will ensure that all legal residents of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country “will be entitled to have health insurance.

NHI will bring about modern, affordable and accessible health care services to the Bahamas. Once fully implemented, NHI will offer a range of comprehensive benefits no matter your income, age, island of residence, or current health status.”

NHIS said that enrollment for NHI requires individuals to possess a National Insurance Board (NIB) Smart Card and that it has expanded the number of available registration centres to facilitate this exercise. On

NHIS said that while all legal residents in the Bahamas are entitled to care under NHI, those who currently pay for private health insurance can maintain their current policies if they so choose.

“However, it is possible that your insurance policy may change given that primary care services will be covered by the Government of the Bahamas through NHI. Additional health insurance you purchase could be a top-up to your NHI coverage.”

The NHIS said that it wanted to emphasize that no additional tax will be imposed for the primary care phase of NHI and quoted a statement from Prime Minister Perry Christie that no payroll deductions or other taxes will be imposed until health system strengthening has advanced.

“Everyone has a role to play. We are all encouraged to register and get our NIB Smart Card as soon as possible so that we are best prepared to move into the next phases on NHI and we can start benefiting from the coverage it will provide to us and our loved ones.

“Once fully implemented, NHI will bring about modern, affordable and accessible health care services to the Bahamas,’ the NHIS added.

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