The Health Insurance Block of the new Budget has been cut by half. THE GOVERNMENT MUST ANNOUNCE WHICH CATEGORIES OF WORKERS UNDER THIS BLOCK WILL SEE CHANGES TO THEIR GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS THIS BUDGET YEAR. In The Budget, Insurance for Law Enforcement Officers (all uniformed branches) (line item 575200) used to be listed under Head 5, Block 50 – Department of Public Service. Nurses are also grouped into that line item. Since the government has removed all Block line items from the entire Budget, you can no longer see the line items for the Insurance Premiums for any Public Service grouping anymore. But Block 50 itself (the Insurance Block) has been CUT BY HALF FOR THE 2015/2016 BUDGET, WITH OVER $25 MILLION BEING CUT. Block 50 contains the Health Insurance Premiums Allocation for Law Enforcement Officers, Nurses, Overseas Personnel, Teachers, Doctors, the Gaming Board and Bahamas Information Services (BIS). Last year, Block 50 was allocated just over $51 million – over $33 million of which was for the Law Enforcement and Nurses’ Insurance Premiums. Since Block 50 now only has just over $25 million allocated when it had over $51 million last year, that clearly means health insurance will be changed this Budget year for some categories of government employees under Block 50. THIS IS THE TYPE OF REASON THAT THE GOVERNMENT STRIPPED THE BUDGET OF THESE LINE ITEMS – SO THAT PARLIAMENT & THE PUBLIC WOULD NOT READILY PICK UP ON WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN EACH MINISTRY & DEPARTMENT.
Now. Government employees are already entitled to free healthcare at government hospitals and clinics. So, if you as a government worker are being told that your group insurance is being stopped or changed in January of this Budget year to be immediately “replaced” by NHI, you are being lied to – since there is no such thing as NHI yet, NHI will not start in January, and going to public hospitals and clinics for free is not NHI – YOUR TAX DOLLARS ALREADY MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO HAVE “FREE” PUBLIC HEALTH CARE. So you would simply be stripped of your group insurance coverage for private medical care as it currently exists. You would not be immediately given another insurance (NHI) in its place. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE IN THE BAHAMAS. It does not exist and there is no legislation as yet for whenever it can and would exist. IN ANY EVENT, WHENEVER NHI DOES START YOUR HEALTHCARE WILL NO LONGER BE “FREE” TO PUBLIC FACILITIES, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO PAY A PREMIUM (PAYROLL TAX) TO HAVE NHI.
Law Enforcement Officers have indicated that their group health insurance might end within this Budget year. My question is simply this as it pertains to the Police Force branch of Law Enforcement – since there is no NHI yet, crime is high and our police are at the front lines of the crime fight – WHY CHANGE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE BEFORE THEY CAN IMMEDIATELY HAVE NHI FOR THEIR HEALTHCARE? And no, it is NOT because the government is cutting spending. The government has INCREASED SPENDING on Recurrent Account in its new Budget BY A STAGGERING $254 MILLION.