By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
SENATOR Dr Michael Darville has recommitted the Progressive Liberal Party to rolling out catastrophic health coverage under National Health Insurance if the party wins the next election.
Dr Darville spoke of the plans as several PLP candidates toured the Switcha manufacturing facility on Gladstone Road yesterday and spoke of the PLP’s economic plan, which is focused on expanding manufacturing and business.
“It was the Progressive Liberal Party that launched National Health Insurance in its first phase and God willing with the opportunity and the support of the Bahamian people, we intend now to expand National Health Insurance to incorporate catastrophic care and to be able to provide necessary services for Bahamians throughout our country,” Dr Darville said during the event.
On the sidelines, Dr Darville explained what the PLP hoped to cover under this plan.
“We’re speaking about selective catastrophic care,” he said. “If you understand National Health Insurance and the staged approach that we talked about, initially the first stage was universal primary healthcare for all Bahamians with no payment at point of service. The second step was selective catastrophic care.
“The reason why that’s important is because when you begin to provide Bahamians with primary healthcare, you begin to find diseases that are in a more advanced stage and those individuals need to be referred to the public institution who do not have insurance... and so there will be a bottleneck and it is important that these individuals have access to these procedures and we must find a way to (do this) more effectively and we believe catastrophic healthcare will provide that avenue but it is first selective catastrophic healthcare before we move directly to universal healthcare for all in the country.”
When asked how this will be paid for, he noted the country is in the midst of an economic downturn as a result of COVID and the shocks from natural disasters.
“The step forward must be well thought out. We must be able to present the need in order for us to take National Health Insurance from (its current state) to the next level and it is a discussion that must be with the Bahamian (public) so that they could begin to understand the importance of accessing proper healthcare.”
During his remarks, Switcha CEO Mervin Sweeting noted the need for better healthcare in the country.
“Healthcare is a problem because far too many times I would’ve had to personally help my employees to go to private doctors because of the inefficiencies from the public healthcare system and the timeframe and the general wellness of care,” Mr Sweeting said.