By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE selection of Trinidadian firm Teleios Systems to be the IT system provider for the National Health Insurance scheme has ignited security concerns over the disclosure of personal data.
Minister of Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville confirmed yesterday that the government had “executed an agreement” with Teleios, but could not provide the date or cost of the contract at the time.
The revelation has incensed a former employee of the National Insurance Board (NIB), who has raised alarm over the implications of changes to the Data Protection Act that were embedded in NHI legislation.
The amendment to the Data Protection Act was included in the fourth schedule of the NHI Act and allows for access to NIB records for the implementation of the scheme by adding a clause to the list of exceptions that would allow for the disclosure of personal data.
The amendment states that it is “required for the purposes of the
implementation and management of National Health Insurance and the determining of eligibility and benefits thereunder.”
The NHI Act (NHIA) came into force on April 6.
The former employee said: “The process of implementing NHI requires the use of the NIB data base – as evidenced by the introduction of the NIB smart card which is used as the basis for registering for NHI.
“The National Health Insurance Bill 2016, the foundation of the new National Health Insurance Act, repeals the National Health Insurance Act 2007.”
The employee continued: “The new cleverly inserted amendment in the fourth schedule of the National Health Insurance Bill, amends the Data Protection Act, and allows NHI to request sensitive NIB data and subsequently provide this data to any party outside of the Bahamas even though this data would not ordinarily be provided to any party within the Bahamas, without your authorisation or without the order of a court.
“NIB holds all of your sensitive data, your NIB medical claim data, your employment history, your children’s information, your grandchildren’s information, your parents’ information, your sisters’ and brothers’ information, your telephone contacts, your physical address, your email address,” the former employee said, “all of this sensitive data will be in the hands of foreigners once this (NHI) Act becomes effective.
“Progress is good, but consider Bahamians first.”
The Tribune was unable to reach the Office of the Data Commissioner yesterday.
When asked about the concerns, Minister of Labour Shane Gibson did not address the amendments but contended that NHI did not require detailed or sensitive information. He pointed out that only basic information, like name, age, and to confirm registration, would be used.
Enrolment in NHI is expected to begin later this month.
The Tribune understands that although no official press statement has been released, the Christie administration has already selected a public insurer that is preparing for the launch of NHI.
Last week, the NHI Secretariat announced that more than 60 doctors have registered as primary care providers so far.