NHI: Setting the Record Straight

There has been much misinformation about what National Health Insurance (NHI) Bahamas is and how it will impact our lives. We want to set the record straight.

The implementation of NHI in The Bahamas is a major advancement in moving our country forward and taking care of our people. A paradigm shift is underway. This is not business as usual.

The Government wishes to stress that the only source for accurate and complete information on NHI is the Government of The Bahamas. The NHI Secretariat, comprising representatives from the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, National Insurance Board, and the Public Hospitals Authority, is executing this important national initiative. The Secretariat is located in the Teachers & Salaried Workers Union Building, East Street South at the Independence Roundabout. We invite you to visit the Secretariat, or contact us at 502-1500 or 502-7601.

NHI Bahamas, in short, is an initiative that will facilitate the provision of modern, accessible and affordable health care services to all legal residents in The Bahamas. More importantly, it recognizes the right of Bahamians to accessible and affordable, high quality, health care.

In order to build a more modern and prosperous Bahamas, we must improve our healthcare system.

Today, only one third of Bahamians have private health insurance. With NHI that will all change and all legal residents of The Bahamas will be entitled to have health insurance.

NHI will bring about modern, affordable and accessible health care services to The Bahamas.

Once fully implemented, NHI will offer a range of comprehensive benefits no matter your income, age, island of residence, or current health status.

We are making progress.

The NHI Secretariat is working to ensure NHI works and is viable. In so doing, the programme will be phased in over time while ensuring the government’s ability to maintain its sustainability.

The five phases of NHI include:

  • Phase 1: Registration
  • Phase 2: Enrollment
  • Phase 3: Primary Health Care Coverage
  • Phase 4: Select Catastrophic Coverage
  • Phase 5: Full Benefits Coverage

Enrollment for NHI requires individuals to possess a National Insurance Board (NIB) Smart Card. Possession of this Smart Card is critical and necessary in order to enroll for the NHI plan. NIB has expanded the number of available registration centres to facilitate this exercise. On January 18th, persons will be able to apply at different locations throughout the Bahamas and receive their NIB Smart Card.

The Primary Health Care Coverage phase includes visits to your doctor, prevention services, diagnostics (lab and imaging), and medication through a primary care provider. Primary care services will be made available to all legal residents of The Bahamas at no cost at point of service and with no new tax being imposed in this initial phase. In this phase, all health costs for primary care services will be paid for by the Government of The Bahamas through general revenue collected by the Ministry of Finance (commonly referred to as the Consolidated Fund). Full benefits, including catastrophic care for major illnesses, will be included in NHI as the programme progresses.

While all legal residents in The Bahamas are entitled to care under NHI, those who currently pay for private health insurance can maintain their current policies if they so choose. However, it is possible that your insurance policy may change given that primary care services will be covered by the Government of The Bahamas through NHI. Additional health insurance you purchase could be a top-up to your NHI coverage.

Enhanced capacity in the health sector will be realized because NHI beneficiaries will be allowed to choose providers from either the public or private sector.

Health System Strengthening activities are also ongoing and will continue to be the backbone for delivering better health system performance in the future.

Such activities include:

  • Extended public clinic hours;
  • Improvements to existing public clinics on all islands;
  • Decentralization of ambulances in New Providence;
  • Opening the Abaco and Exuma mini-hospitals;
  • Hospital improvements at both Princess Margaret Hospital and The Rand Memorial Hospital, in particular improvements to the PMH accident and emergency department to upgrade and improve patient flows;
  • Opening a community-based mental health facility;
  • Additional equipment available throughout public clinics on all islands; and
  • Accommodations for long term and rehabilitative care

Change will not happen overnight and the transformation takes considerable financial and human resource efforts to achieve desired results. The improvements will benefit everyone.

We wish to emphasize that no additional tax will be imposed for the Primary Care Phase of NHI. The Prime Minister has indicated that no payroll deductions or other taxes will be imposed until health system strengthening has advanced.

Everyone has a role to play. We are all encouraged to register and get our NIB Smart Card as soon as possible so that we are best prepared to move into the next phases on NHI and we can start benefiting from the coverage it will provide to us and our loved ones.

Once fully implemented, NHI will bring about modern, affordable and accessible health care services to The Bahamas.

By National Health Insurance Secretariat

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