March 16, 2016
The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) yesterday continued to release its serial responses to the draft National Health Insurance (NHI) bill. This time, the reaction was against what the association deemed "notable omissions" from the bill, which a senior industry veteran claims "confirms the suspicions of many" about the NHI scheme architects' intent to cut insurance agents and brokers from the government's universal healthcare scheme.
Felicia Knowles, a member of the Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) NHI Committee and former president of the Bahamas Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), pointed out in a statement issued yesterday decrying the omission that a review of the draft legislation showed that insurance intermediaries are not referenced at all in the document; in fact, she said, the term is not even defined in the legislation.
"It is clear that the NHI designers do not contemplate a role for insurance intermediaries, including brokers, who play a major role in the insurance industry as fiduciaries. The draft NHI bill may conflict with certain provisions of the main legislation governing the insurance industry as it relates to the solicitation of insurance
business through insurance intermediaries. There has been no discussion with the BIA about any specific proposed amendments to the Insurance Act to accommodate this new regime. This position ought to be considered in the context of an NHI model that is flawed and that has the potential to destabilize the local insurance industry. Additionally, in an economy with low growth and high unemployment, it would seem imprudent to design a scheme that results in job losses within the private sector," she said.
Meanwhile, actuary and BIA NHI Committee member Marcus J. Bosland addressed the financial aspects of the draft bill, arguing for an amendment requiring actuarial reviews when amending benefits, either through the use of the Reserve Fund in clause 15 (2) (b) or when done through clause 20 (3).
According to the BIA, those changes can have significant financial implications and the government must ensure that it receives appropriate actuarial advice prior to making such decisions. Moreover, Bosland says that unlike the Insurance Act, the term "actuary" is never defined in the bill.
The BIA reported that it met with the NHI Secretariat on Monday, March 14, 2016 at which time the groups discussed the draft NHI bill and preliminary observations. The BIA expects to provide its formal feedback including comments and proposed amendments or recommendations to the NHI Secretariat on or before April 15, 2016.
By K. Quincy Parker
Guardian Business Editor
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