The Bermuda Health Plan
Mr Speaker, I rise to give this statement today to update this Honourable House and the public on the Government’s intentions with respect to the transformation of Bermuda’s healthcare structure – the new Bermuda Health Plan.
Honourable Members will recall, prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this Government committed to engaging healthcare professionals, public and private insurers, local and international business, and the general public regarding a new path for the provision of healthcare services for our Bermuda community.
The aim is to ensure equitable access to necessary healthcare services, contain healthcare costs and engage prevention and health promotion strategies to produce better health outcomes.
As many are aware, Bermuda’s current health system is at a breaking point with unsatisfactory health outcomes and unsustainable cost increases. Too many of us are uninsured, underinsured or struggling to cope with soaring health premiums and co-payments.
The catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the island’s economy is directly felt by public and private healthcare providers and their patient base, as well as the funding methods which underpin the system.
Mr Speaker, the Bermuda Health Plan will progress health reform, and I want to highlight some of the components the community will be hearing more about in the coming months.
Mr Speaker, the transformation to universal health coverage through the Bermuda Health Plan will be rooted in the organising principle of “integrated care” and delivered via a single payer mechanism. Integrating health services across the continuum of care that is public health, mental health, acute and post-acute care and community services will contribute to improved health outcomes and greater resiliency in times of disaster. This patient-centric approach enables Bermudians to get the care they need, when they need it, and to have quality care provided at fair value.
Mr Speaker, the Government expects this integrated service model to be developed and stood up in phases over the course of the healthcare restructuring process. It is intended and anticipated that the integrated service model will reduce duplication, enhance information sharing, and realise synergies, efficiencies and economies of scale that cause savings to be realised with respect to our healthcare costs.
However, the development and implementation of universal health coverage is a task to be achieved over a number of years. We expect to see many benefits to undertaking these reforms, including this shift to an integrated care model that is based on proactive, preventative ‘out of hospital services’ rather than one that is based on reactive high cost hospital care.
Mr Speaker, as we work through this complex undertaking, we are seeking to establish close working relationships with key stakeholders. We cannot do this work alone or function in decision-making silos. This is why we value building our community partnerships with organizations such as the Bermuda Medical Doctors’ Association, as well as nurses, dentists and other allied health professionals; the island's private insurers and the Chamber of Commerce; patients’ advocacy proponents, the Bermuda Health Advisory Group; and, BermudaFirst.
Indeed, collaboration with BermudaFirst has commenced already, and a working group is being set up to progress next steps in advancing health reform.
For its part, the Ministry of Health is already working in partnership with the Bermuda Hospitals Board and Bermuda Health Council in formulating reform strategy.
Mr Speaker, the message here is that without proactive modifications to the island’s healthcare system, projected healthcare expenditure risks overwhelming our economy. An ageing population means that there will be fewer working adults to pay for the increasing demand and costs of care. If nothing is done, we will see deteriorating healthcare outcomes and overwhelming financial challenges for Bermuda.
The challenge of rising demand and changing demographics faced by our health system requires transformative reform.
Bermuda must have a holistic healthcare system that prioritises prevention, chronic disease management and healthcare delivery via primary care, with a restructuring of the health system financing.
Starting with the Bermuda Health Plan, we will be on the way.
Thank you Mr Speaker.