By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE establishment of a national lottery could be a way of funding National Health Insurance (NHI), according to Medical Association of The Bahamas (MAB) President Dr Sy Pierre.
“Funding is obviously a concern. The question has always been where is the funding coming from. The only thing I can see that may be palatable is a national lottery. You don’t want NHI to be the tax that broke the camel’s back,” said Dr Pierre.
He added: “This possibly would have been a great opportunity for a national lottery. A national lottery strictly for health care would have been a good thing. Also there are tobacco products, alcohol and things that contribute to poor outcomes in health that could also be looked at.”
The NHI policy paper states that the primary care stage of NHI implementation will cost the Government approximately $100m annually. It is proposed that an additional $24m a year will be reserved for coverage of selected high-cost specialised care.
It remains unclear how the scheme will be funded when it expands in scope, although Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez recently noted that other countries have taxed “unhealthy substances” like alcohol and tobacco as well as high salt and high sugar products to fund healthcare. The government spends about $400m annually on “all aspects of healthcare in the country”.