In the wake of plans for the implementation of National Health Insurance, Free National Movement Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest is convinced that the government does not really expect the scheme to come to fruition.
In a recent interview, he told The Bahama Journal that based on this premise, there is little hope for Bahamians when it comes to universal health care coverage.
“There are a whole bunch of people, who contributed to this programme with a promised deadline of its implementation. I think it was last year sometime, pushed back to January 1 this year, and now it seeks a proposal where it will be beginning sometime in May,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“That’s very interesting and coincidental, because we know that elections are scheduled for May, so it is obvious that this government intends for this programme to die after spending all this money, hoping that they are able to push it off to the next government,” he added.
“That is very unfortunate, and it is unfair for the Bahamian people,” he said.
The government has hosted numerous town meetings recently, after a call from many to educate the public on what the scheme involved.
Meantime, Mr. Turnquest insists the country is not prepared for the NHI’s roll out.
“We all know that the health care facilities in the country are inadequate and that they need upgrade in Nassau, and certainly here in Grand Bahama and throughout the Family Islands,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“As we travel these family islands we hear stories of neglect, of lack of access, clinics closing, clinics being understaffed, having insufficient medicine or types of medicine,” he said.
The Secretariat recently launched the NHI Benefits Campaign aimed at educating Bahamians on which services and treatments will be made available under the primary care phase.
This phase will cover services like annual physical exams and counseling, screening for various medical conditions, lab tests, diagnostic imaging, ultrasounds and x-rays, vaccinations, blood tests and various medications.
It’s estimated that around 200,000 Bahamians do not have health insurance.
The average Bahamian household is said to spend around $2,000 per year on health care.