By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Government has accepted the recommendation from its latest National Health Insurance (NHI) consultants that the scheme’s proposed public insurer be operated by a private sector manager.
Peter Deveaux-Isaacs, the NHI permanent secretary, confirmed at a press conference yesterday that the Christie Cabinet has already approved one proposal from the KPMG accounting firm and the international ‘heavyweights’ it has brought in.
“Some of our stakeholders suggested, and KPMG and the Government have agreed on this, that the public insurer would be managed by a third party private entity. This morning, Cabinet approved this recommendation,” Mr Deveaux-Isaacs.
This recommendation is close to the Bahamas Insurance Association’s (BIA)position, which suggested that the Government abandon its planned public NHI insurer because there was no need for it.
The BIA, and its member life and health insurers, argued that creating the public insurer, to be known as Bahama Care, would be a great expense and waste of taxpayer monies by the Government, given that its role would be duplicated by the private sector.
Emmanuel Komolafe, the BIA’s chairman, declined to comment on the change when contacted by Tribune Business last night, saying he wanted to learn more details about what the Government and KPMG had agreed.
The BIA is due to meet this morning, and Mr Komolafe said: “They [KPMG} obviously put something forward to Cabinet which has been approved, but there will be more details behind it. Several models had been put forward.”
Mr Deveaux-Isaacs said the contract to become Bahama Care’s manager would be put out to competitive bid via public tender.
Emphasising the Government’s new NHI approach of “getting things right from the onset”, he effectively confirmed that the scheme will not launch its $100 million primary care phase next week as planned
“KPMG Advisory Bahamas is mandated to advise us as we implement NHI Bahamas to ensure the programme continues to be rolled out in a responsible and sustainable manner, and to ensure due diligence when it comes to mapping out the final costing model for NHI Bahamas,” Mr Deveaux-Isaacs said.
“They are also advising us on the creation and administration of the public insurer, which will be set up as part of the NHI Bahamas programme.
“They have already conducted a thorough review of work done to date, and have validated a lot of our plans as well as the costing for the primary care phase, which would be $25 million per quarter. They have also made recommendations that we are moving forward with.”
KPMG Advisory Bahamas has engaged some of the accounting firm’s leading global health specialists to work on the NHI consultancy.
They are Dr Mark Britnell, chairman and senior partner for its global health practice, and Dr Anuschka Coovadia, head of healthcare markets for KPMG in South Africa.