The implementation of Universal Health Coverage through the establishment of the National Health Insurance Programme will help the Government of The Bahamas to further meet its commitment of building a healthcare system that is modern, affordable and accessible as it aims to make The Bahamas “the healthiest country in the region” by the year 2040.
The continued strengthening of the public healthcare system — which has already begun particularly at the primary healthcare level — will also help the Government accomplish these goals.
Peter Deveaux-Isaacs, Permanent Secretary, National Health Insurance, said NHI is a key initiative to building a more modern and prosperous Bahamas.
“NHI Bahamas is part of a wider programme of improvements being made to the health system. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority, health system strengthening activities are ongoing and will continue to be the backbone for delivering better health system performance in the future.
“These are the values that are at the core of all planning and policy-making decisions regarding healthcare for Bahamians,” Deveaux-Isaacs added.
Mr. Deveuax-Isaacs’ comments came while addressing a press conference held Mondaymorning at the NHI Secretariat to roll out the NHI public education and awareness campaign.
The roll out included the launch of the NHI website (www.nhibahamas.gov.bs), which went live Monday, and the NHI Bahamas logo. NHI Officials said a number of measures were put in place prior to Monday’s launch of the website as part of a structured and coordinated process leading up to the implementation of NHI.
These actions included extending public clinic hours for the benefit of clients of the public healthcare system, who now have greater access to public healthcare as a result of the extensions; the implementation of an appointment-based system that has already resulted in shorter wait times and coordinated improvements to existing public clinics on all islands.
Continued consultations with all stakeholders and public information sessions will also continue to be a part of the Government’s public education and awareness efforts.
NHI will be “phased-in over several years to ensure the Government’s ability to pay for it sustainably.”
The five phases of NHI are to include Registration (Phase I), Enrollment (Phase II), Primary Healthcare Coverage (Phase III), Select Catastrophic Coverage (Phase IV), and Full Benefits Coverage (Phase V).
“The first phase is already underway with Bahamians starting to register for their National Insurance Board (NIB) Smart Card which will act as their NHI card,” Dr. Delon Brennen, Project Director, NHI, said. “Bahamians are encouraged to get their cards in order to get their care.”
Dr. Brennen said officials at the National Insurance Board (NIB) have been “making a big push for registration” and have established a number of available registration centres. Additional locations will be added to accommodate this exercise.
“Once registered, Bahamians can choose to receive care from a registered and certified doctor in the private or public sector with no difference in cost for primary care services,” Dr. Brennen said.
“Those who currently have private health insurance do not have to give that up if they do not want to,” Dr. Brennen added.
Citizens are encouraged to call NIB for more details on registration locations at 225-5642.