Members of the NHI Secretariat traveled to South Africa in mid-June to observe and evaluate best practices for the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in The Bahamas.
A team consisting of Dr. Delon Brennen, NHI Project Manager; Dr. Kevin Bowe, Deputy Director, National Health Insurance & Special Projects, National Insurance Board and Ms. Damara Dillett, NHI Legal Counsel traveled to Johannesburg and to Cape Town over the week of 13th of June 2016. The purpose of the trip was to facilitate a bilateral exchange of information and a global approach to building the best UHC model for Bahamians.
A series of meetings provided team members with a better understanding of South Africa’s own journey towards UHC. The Secretariat met with Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoadeli, who stressed that the importance of providing quality health care must be at the primary care stage. Other meetings were facilitated during the week with key industry stakeholders including health economists, the Government Employees Medical Scheme and the KwaZulu-Natal Managed Care Coalition, which is a group of doctors with a mission to promote and enhance quality and accessible health care on the basis of sound economic principles.
The Secretariat also held healthy dialogues with representatives of the Discovery Health Medical Scheme, a shared value insurance company that incentivizes people to be healthier. The Bahamian Secretariat was introduced to new and innovative avenues for small-to-medium sized businesses to have a positive impact on health and promote a healthier Bahamas. “We have to find ways to incentivize good behavior. For example, when you go to the grocery store and purchase foods that are good for you, you receive 25% off’ explained Dr. Brennen. ‘Every day that you meet walking goals, you earn activity points that you can redeem for discounts on items like airline tickets, movie passes and otherwise. We have to take best practices and learn from them so that we can improve people’s health’.
The team collected practical insights for the ways in which to set up and run the Public Insurer, as well as wellness programs. Being able to engrain the importance of wellness in the culture is an important lesson learned in South Africa that must be considered in The Bahamas.
‘The trip provided a tremendous amount of validation that The Bahamas is moving in the right direction with its strategic implementation of NHI Bahamas’ said Dr Bowe. ‘We shared our experience just as much as we had the opportunity to learn from our hosts.’
This fact-finding trip is part of a broader approach designed to promote a global exchange of information between The Bahamas and other nations, as we move towards the enrolment phase of NHI Bahamas.
More information on NHI Bahamas can be found at www.nhibahamas.gov.bs.