‘The trouble we face is that everyone thinks of going to emergency as being ‘free.’
- Zane De Silva, Health Minister
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13: Islanders are overusing the emergency department because of the misconception it is ‘free’ care.
This according to Health Minister Zane DeSilva as he urged patients with minor complaints to “hang on” and make use of the other health services open to them in Bermuda.
Minister DeSilva’s comments come as the Benefit Design Task Group submitted three package proposals to actuaries to make the current health system more cost effective.
The task group is one of six similar forums that have been formed to identify ways to implement the National Health Plan that will be launched in 2014.
The Health Minister told the Bermuda Sun the National Health Plan aims to remove people’s reliance on the hospital, control health costs and make health care more accessible.
Mr DeSilva said: “If we can explain to people, and the hospital has to play a part too, that if you have suffered a minor injury or something that does not require emergency care over the weekend to not go to emergency but hang on until Monday and visit your doctor, that would help.
“We are trying to educate people to make the best use of the services available on the island.
“The trouble we face is that everyone thinks of going to emergency as being ‘free’ whereas if they go to their doctor they will be charged.
“That will obviously change when we get rid of up front payments on August 1.
“But this is also why we are looking at transferring aspects of care like doctor’s visits from the Major Medical side of insurance payments to a standard health benefit that everyone pays for and is more cost effective.”
Mr DeSilva said he had been impressed with the work of all the task groups.
He added: “Everyone’s main concern is how is it going to affect me financially and that is why the Benefit Design Task Group are the first to come back to us with three package options.
“These draft package options are currently being priced by our actuaries.
“The goal has been to design a new minimum package of essential services that promotes cost containment through efficient use of healthcare resources. Before the packages can be finalized we need to assess the costs and once this is ready there will be public consultation on the right option for Bermuda.”