Bishop Says Govt Should Not Wait On Insurers

Bishop Simeon Hall

Bishop Simeon Hall


Tribune Staff Reporter


BISHOP Simeon Hall yesterday said while the Christie administration should “at least listen to credible critics” of National Health Insurance, it should not “wait on insurance companies to lead the fight” in providing universal healthcare for Bahamians.

Bishop Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, said while the government should be “held accountable” for being “slow” on providing information, it must not “wait on people with vested interest to lead the way” in NHI’s administration.

He said the government has a fundamental obligation to ensure that “poor people” and Bahamians in general are afforded universal healthcare.

Bishop Hall’s comments came two days after the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) said their limited involvement in NHI discussions is the “worst experience” that the association has had “with any sitting government in an independent Bahamas.”

The BIA said its concerns over NHI’s administration have been “dismissed or ignored in totality by the current administration,” adding that the association is appalled that the insurance industry “has been treated in such a manner by the government”.

On Sunday, the Consultant Physician Staff Association (CPSA) warned that it would not sign onto NHI unless the government is willing to “respect our input into the whole system”.

The Christie administration, in response, has portrayed its critics as “greedy,” adding that it will not allow any one person and/or group to hold it “hostage” over NHI.

“If they are persons who have something to say, government should listen to them,” Bishop Hall said yesterday. “But government as I see it, cannot wait on people with vested interest to lead the way. The protection, the granting of health, the coverage of health for Bahamians must be led by the government of The Bahamas. They are responsible for seeing that we get it.

“You cannot wait for insurance companies to give coverage to people who can’t pay for it, and that’s how I see it.”

Bishop Hall added: “Poor people need coverage, and it must be so, because again, President (Barack) Obama has given to America the opportunity for healthcare. We have copied America in almost everything else they do, we should copy them with this. Now we should hold our government accountable to ... give information. Government is sometimes slow with information. It should give the information, but you cannot wait for the insurance companies to lead the fight in national coverage for Bahamian people.”

On Monday, National Insurance and Labour Minister Shane Gibson accused the CPSA of being more interested in “making the mighty dollar” than saving lives. Mr Gibson, the minister with responsibility for NHI’s registration campaign, suggested that the CPSA and other NHI critics have resorted to adopting an attitude of “if I can’t have it my way, then I’m going to tell the public I’m not a part of the process.”

Still, Mr Gibson said the CPSA’s position will not deter the government from conducting the NHI rollout, adding that the Christie administration will not allow any one person or group to hold it “hostage” over NHI.

NHI will be phased in over a five-year period, the government has said. The Christie administration plans to roll out a primary healthcare package for NHI in April and a vital healthcare benefits package sometime within the next year.


Economist 4 years, 1 month ago

This man is stuck in the 50's and 60's.

He has no comprehension of how a real democratic government should operate.

He is acting like an old fool.


happyfly 4 years, 1 month ago

What an ignorant clown. Might as well be talking about the PLP starting the Bahamas own international space agency with the intention of being the first to put a human on mars.....because we do everything like America


ThisIsOurs 4 years, 1 month ago

I am sick of people purporting to fight in the name of the poor when clearly, their singular goal is to have a label like "NHI" or "University of the Bahamas" for a 2016 political campaign talking point.

If they were seriously concerned about the poor and their access to health care, they would sit with all stakeholders to ensure that what is done is done correctly. The newest "bag of tricks" promise pulled on us last week, is that some 25 million(?) will be set aside for catastrophic care. Laughable, another talking point. One to two people could wipe that out in a single year. Then what?

I wish our people would stop selling themselves for Kentucky dinner and a bottle of beer.

The best outcome for this NHI is for insurers to offer a national basic care policy and for the government to invest in diet and exercise programmes. Aside from crime, bad diet, lack of exercise and our poor attitudes to fitness in general are the biggest threats to our society. Look at our overweight government representatives and our military. Attack that


Rontom 4 years, 1 month ago

Don't know what a National Basic Care Policy is, but I do know that private medical insurances do have different tiers of coverage e.g. basic, silver, gold etc.. For basic coverage the cost is prohibitive for most and at best provide far less benefits and could easily be maxed out in a few years and will not cover for preexisting conditions. Hence, the idea for NHI.

Health Care systems are designed in terms of interventions Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Or, more recently, Universal Preventative Intervention, Indicated Intervention etc. Primary/preventative focuses more stopping disease before it happens: vaccines, immunizations, no smoking campaign to kids and to your suggestions diet and exercise programs. These programs and initiatives are expensive and will not address those who are already disease burdened. And therefore you need a Indicated/Secondary intervention. And this is where much of Health care cost is realized. This is early detection of disease or illness like a pap smear or prostate exam. If you end up going to hospital, this is way too expensive and treatment is designed to lessen physical or mental disability.

Unfortunately, most of our health care dollars are spent here: dialysis, chemotherapy, cardiac surgery, amputations. We need a system that is designed where early access to the best intervention results in best outcome at the least cost. This can not be achieved without some form of regulatory body that controls cost, access and treatment. NHI purports to do that. And it could. The way how things are right NOW is unsustainable in COST, ACCESS and TREATMENT over-crowded ER, long waiting time to see specialist 3 to 6 months for elective surgery. Not good. What needs to take place are honest men and women on all sides of the issue to negotiate so that these objective are achieved. But, I doubt that it will if we bow too much on any one side: The doctors, The Private Insurers or The Government.


ThisIsOurs 4 years, 1 month ago

"Basic care", primary care then, exactly what the government is proposing, partially funded by the government, simply not run by the government . I think NHI could work if enough time and effort is put in the planning stage and if it's managed properly, the government clearly has no concern about implementing or running it properly, they want a campaign talking point. They are hell bent on NHI and UOB before 2017 whether they're ready or not

If they focus on reducing the cost of healthy foods and promoting fitness programmes in conjunction with primary care, they would knock out our three major killers, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. That's not a hypothetical. Our skyrocketing health care costs can be directly linked to what we're eating and our inactivity.


Rontom 4 years, 1 month ago

No it cant. Cost of health care is linked to advance in medical technology and treatment.


moncurcool 4 years, 1 month ago

While I am a proponent of Health Insurance being available for all, I am not a proponent of the government being involved in running it. The government said Vat would solve our borrowing problems and reduce the national debt. They are boasting about the fact that they will collect more money than they anticipated for VAT this year. But did anyone noticed they just had a bill in parliament to borrow more money . Has anyone look at the government corporations, which most are monopolies, and yet they can never turn a profit. They present way NHI is structured with the government running it, and seeking to kill off private insurers regardless of what they say, that will be another bankrupt entity that we will taxed to the hilt to pay for . Rather than trying to rush something, the government if they care about people need to sit down with stakeholders and listen rather than trying to ram down their dictatorial, Chavez style plan down people's throat. If this goes through, we will be the next Venezuela of the region.


ThisIsOurs 4 years, 1 month ago

Maybe if they put a ban on the import of all skinny jeans over size 10, and 5 years imprisonment for smuggling them in, we just might solve the problem


Bahamianpride 4 years, 1 month ago

No angels on either side of the debate. Private health insurance in the Bahamas or insurance in general is like organized crime. All they want to do is collect. What about people with disorders like lupus or MS. If u are born to a poor family and have any of these type ailments the chance of a swift death in the Bahamas are high. We can argue that NHI needs more time and better consultation but using individuals who have profited greatly from the corrupt private health care system is like using the fox as a consultant in the building of the chicken coupe. I am no fan of NHI but i'm also not a fan of people dying unnecessarily because they cannot afford private health insurance or access to competent care. Health care is a national issue and to important to be left at the discretion of people whose only motive is profit. In the current system we have $$$ is the only factor in determining who lives or die. Look at our grocery stores, everything that's healthy is triple the cost, but u can buy tons of junk at discount prices. So unless u have a farm in your back yard the poor in general eat unhealthy and generally live in unsanitary conditions. Scientist have address the many health issues associated with consumption of these overly process unnatural lab made products, particularly its affect on insulin. So basically U can have a fat midsection or be obese and still be malnourished. What needs to be address and expanded upon in the health care debate is the how cost of living and other economic factors in the Bahamas contributes to poor health. I generally don't side with either political party but the PLP are heading in the right direction with NHI for all.


SayWa 4 years, 1 month ago

I totally agree with you. The government may not be going about it the right way, but lets not act as if the insurance companies are looking out for the average person.

We saw the same exact arguments played out when Obama tried to implement his version of NHI and his version was watered down. Perry is actually trying to do what Obama wanted to do, a public option, but couldn't do it because of the insurance companies, his political opposition and yes, the media.

I'm just hoping calmer heads prevail and we end up with something that is good for the people.


Rontom 4 years, 1 month ago

Correct. The best possible situation is representatives from all sides. Its more than just healthy fòod. Some illnesses are on the Nature side of the equation. And insurance companies do NOT cover for preexisting conditions. Phased in approached is capitulation and an acceptance to the status quo. No one who ill now should wait until everything is in place. What if it was your mom who needs a life saving heart surgery. Why should she wait?


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