Categorized | National News

NHI Job Cuts

As the journey to universal health care continues, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands confirmed some structural changes to the National Health Insurance (NHI) plan which includes the reduction of staff.

This revelation came after the government’s review of the scheme forced it to make some structural changes.

Since the programme’s inception, 46 customer service representatives were contracted to execute the plan, but that number has almost been split in half.

“Forty-six customer service representatives were hired on contract for six months and the terms of their contracts would’ve allowed a one week notice,” Dr. Sands said yesterday as he spoke to reporters outside Cabinet.

“While it pains us that Bahamians find themselves without employment it is difficult to rationalize an excess number of individuals being paid and not providing a benefit to the Bahamian public. We have 25 of the most productive, best performing customer service representatives still providing that service to NHI.”

He added that “customer service representatives would’ve enrolled as many as 6,500 clients per month. Well that has decreased to about 300 per week. It is difficult to have the Bahamian public bear that cost.

“So as we have looked at streamlining every single aspect of NHI, we would like to ensure that as much of our budget goes to direct patient care.”

According to Dr. Sands, $124 million was initially budgeted for clinical benefits, public relations and infrastructure, but that figure has been significantly reduced.

“The reality of The Bahamas is that we have been able to assign a total of $40 million for everything,” Dr. Sands said.

With these changes, there are concerns from some of the thousands who have already enrolled in the programme, in terms of how they will be affected.

The health minister sought to put those concerns to rest.

“Continue to enroll. NHI is here and it is real. Yes, there will be modifications to the benefits that people thought they were going to get. In truth, what people thought they were told they were going to get is never what was intended,” Dr. Sands said.

“So what we would like to do moving forward is to  make it very clear exactly what the benefits are for NHI so people don’t show up and say I thought this was included.”

The government is expected to roll out primary healthcare as well as a catastrophic component.

At last report 22,000 individuals had enrolled for NHI.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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