Health Care Solutions
"The costs of health care have definitely galloped at a rate that is more than any other sector." That was the view put forward by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley at 41st Annual Barbados Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Awards Ceremony last Saturday. This statement came barely a month after Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners held an emergency meeting where they declared that day to day necessities such as sutures were in a dire shortage. Recent costs to the public at the QEH are beginning signs that the free health care Barbadians have enjoyed for over the last 50 years may soon be no more.
In the United States, Obama care highlighted the growing cost of healthcare and the importance of all being covered. While they may have been differences in how healthcare plans should be structured and funded, both Republicans and Democrats agreed on the importance of a healthcare plan that covered all, with contributions from all that were able.
Unfortunately in an economy with much depleted pocket books the onus is shifting to the individual to purchase their own individual health insurance, critical illness and accident and sickness plans.
Major medical health coverage provides a wide cross section of coverage to ensure that you are covered under any sickness. Coverage in the contracts are usually broken down in sections to show how much is allocated to what sicknesses. Coverage usually includes maternity, surgery, diagnostic, transplants, air and local transport, preventative care. So in a million dollar policy only a fraction would be allocated to maternity whereas greater amount may be allocated to surgery. In the event of sickness the company covers a portion of the expense, usually 80-90 percent after the deductible (The amount that the insured must pay out-of-pocket before the health insurer pays its share) has been satisfied.
Choosing the right deductible is very important and should be discussed at length with your financial planner. While it may seem to some that choosing a low deductible is the better option lower deductibles lead to higher premiums. Vice versa higher deductibles lead to lower premiums and in some instances may make more financial sense. For example a$ 2000.00 deductible may give premium of $100.00 whereas a $500.00 deductible may give a premium of$ 150.00. Annually that’s a difference in $600.00 in premium which could go to savings or investments. In any case having to pay a deductible even if it is high is generally negligible should something serious occur.
Statistics show there is a greater probability of a person becoming disabled before age 65 than death . According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barbados ranks in the top 10 nations with road accident victims in relation to size of population with serious injuries jumping from 89 in 1993 to 147 in 2010. Accident and sickness plans provide funds to replace loss of income in the event the individual is unable to work due to circumstances such as these.
Dr. Hennis, Head of the Chronic Disease Research Centre states that of the 190,000 Barbadians aged 20 years and older, 90,000 are overweight, 38,000 suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure, 19,000 are diabetic, and one person suffers a stroke every day. More than 65% of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s budget provides for Chronic Non-Communicable Disease (CNCD) care. In the 6 month period April October 2004 the Barbados Drug Service paid out approximately 16 million drugs used in the treatment of CNCDs. Indirect costs for diabetes, i.e. loss of productivity, sickness benefits, and loss of earnings due to premature death have been calculated at more than 138 million US dollars annually according to website www.reform.gov.bb. Needless to say critical illnesses incur huge expenses. Critical illness plans provide a lumpsum of cash payable upon proof of a covered diagnosed illness. This lump sum is essential in compensating for the percentage not covered by a health plan. While most health plans may cover between 80 – 90 percent, the outstanding costs can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. A $200,000.00 bill would leave an outstanding balance of between $20,000.00 to $40, 0000 using the previous example. Cash is also needed to aid in the almost certain lifestyle changes. Wheel chairs, Ramps, new diets, supplements and assisted living care can prove to be costly the longer the affected person lives.
While in good health all means should be taken to secure adequate protection as health conditions can change without a moments notice. The cost of waiting is too great as premiums increase with age and pre-existing conditions are not covered. Seek sound free financial advice from a professional advisor today on the right mix of protection so that you will be prepared in the event of the unthinkable.