FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21: Health experts will review the concept of proportional contributions after it attracted widespread opposition from businesses.

The idea that higher earners should pay more than less well-off members of the community for the same coverage is one of 11 ‘goals’ set out in the Government’s National Health Plan.

But feedback received by the Department of Health to the plan has revealed that those against proportional contributions feared it would drive away international business and damage the economy.

A report published yesterday stated: “Feedback on proportional contributions was mixed, but more respondents, in particular employers and business advocacy groups were not supportive of this goal.

“Those who were opposed to proportional contributions generally provided comments such as the belief that it will drive away international business, damage the economy or unfairly impact middle and high income earners.

“Those who supported this goal commented that fair and equal access are important, that the healthy and employed should pay more so everyone can afford healthcare, but that middle earners should not be punished.”

Yesterday Health Minister Zane DeSilva said there was broad support for Health Plan’s core value of sustainability.

But he admitted that the concept of proportional contributions would be looked at again by a health ‘think tank’.

He said: “Going forward, the feedback will result in some revisions to the National Health Plan.

“While the direction for reform remains the same, there were some great recommendations to be included in the Plan.

“Also, in light of the concerns raised about proportional contributions, this concept will be reviewed by the Task Group responsible for Finance and Reimbursement.”

Government held more than 40 meetings with 583 stakeholders to discuss the National Health Plan.

And it received 100 written responses from charities, political groups, private health insurers and other groups.

The Consultation Feedback Report revealed that the response on equal access to basic healthcare and proportional financial burden was ‘mixed’.

Opposition

The report stated: “The majority of opposition to equity was from employers and business advocacy groups, most of which came in the form of a standardized letter provided to employers by one business advocacy group.

“Health professionals and public advocacy groups were largely supportive of equity, while the general public’s feedback was mixed.”

Mr DeSilva told the press conference yesterday he was very encouraged by the volume of the feedback.

He added: “I am pleased to report that overall, there was broad support for the core value of sustainability and for reform efforts to contain the increase in healthcare costs.

“Feedback on equity was more varied.  There was strong support, but concerns were also raised by some of our stakeholders.

“Overall, however, there was support for making health coverage available to everyone.

“The goal of universal coverage was largely supported; and there were many varied suggestions and ideas on how this might be achieved.

“There was also a great deal of interest in the financial analysis and modelling necessary to determine the impact of the reforms on the economy, employers and individuals.

“Overall, the feedback offered us the reassurance that there was very strong support for universal access to healthcare, and enhancing the basic package.

“I believe that this reflects the caring nature of the Bermudian community, and our instinct to truly be our brother’s keeper.”