(Nassau, The Bahamas) – On October 23, 2018, Dr. Robin Roberts, Chairman of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Board, announced that the National Health Insurance (NHI) program will be undergoing a transformation to better suit the needs of Bahamians and stakeholders. As part of its efforts to reposition NHI Bahamas for success, the NHIA has launched a 45-day consultation period with stakeholders to discuss proposed changes to the program – a program which is grounded in Bahamian values of shared responsibility, fairness, commitment to the community, and working forward, upward, onward, together for better health and health care in The Bahamas.
Since the launch of NHI Bahamas in April 2017, approximately 40,000 beneficiaries have enrolled in the program with high levels of satisfaction reported by persons who are receiving primary care services. For example, over 85% of NHI beneficiaries rated the overall quality of service with their NHI physician as “excellent” or “good”, according to a recent patient satisfaction survey conducted by the NHIA. Patients also reported that NHI gives them peace of mind and comfort, as it removes some of the barriers to accessing quality care.
As part of the launch of the consultation period, the NHIA released a policy paper, entitled National Health Insurance: A Shared Responsibility, which outlines the proposed policy framework for the revamped NHI program. Under the new proposal, NHI promises to be affordable, realistic, and sustainable, with a goal to act as a catalyst for change in the way Bahamians experience health care.
The new direction proposes that primary care services be expanded to include cancer screening programs and diagnostic imaging. In addition, coverage will be further expanded beyond just primary care to include treatment for certain common diseases in The Bahamas: breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, rectum cancer, cervical cancer, heart attack, need for a pacemaker, and end stage kidney disease.
“As a physician and a citizen of The Bahamas, I know there are barriers that can prevent persons from accessing essential health care services – the consequences of which can be devastating. For too long, many of our citizens have had to rely on cookouts to help fund expensive treatments, or forego receiving treatment altogether when they have fallen ill because they couldn’t afford it. We are aiming to end that trend over time. It is vitally important that stakeholders in our community have the opportunity to provide their feedback on the proposed direction of NHI Bahamas, and we welcome meaningful engagement on the new way forward to improving care for our citizens,” said Dr. Robin Roberts, Chairman of the NHIA Board.
The model for NHI Bahamas that was previously launched was unsustainable for the country. The new model promotes shared responsibility, access, accountability, quality and fairness – all while staying firm to a commitment of improving the way patients experience care.
Through a proposed shared financial responsibility between employers, citizens and the government, quality healthcare services will be made accessible for all Bahamians in a way that is affordable and fair. Moving away from a single payer model to a shared responsibility approach will make the program more sustainable for generations to come, and allow for NHI to continually expand its benefits coverage over time.
“Bahamians know the importance of community and we stand together when times get tough as our brothers’ keeper. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to health care. We are coming together at a national level to care for one another and remove barriers to accessing treatment for serious diseases. With this new model for NHI Bahamas, we anticipate tremendous improvement to the overall health of our population over time,” said Dr. Roberts.
Lastly, to promote healthy lifestyles for Bahamians, the NHIA is intending to launch a wellness program that educates persons on how to live healthier lives and prevent diseases.
The policy paper is posted on the NHI Bahamas website for stakeholders and the public to review. Stakeholders and members of the public have 45 days to submit their responses through the online consultation survey which can be accessed here: https://www.cognitoforms.com/NationalHealthInsuranceAuthority/NHIAPolicyPaperFeedback
The NHIA will also be scheduling individual meetings with stakeholder groups and will be hosting town hall meetings in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands during the consultation period.
Based on the feedback collected during the consultation period, the NHIA will then present recommendations to the Government of The Bahamas on the way forward for NHI Bahamas.
For more information on NHI Bahamas, visit www.nhibahamas.gov.bs.
Contact the National Health Insurance Authority: