Two-thirds of J'cans are without health insurance; say they can't afford it or it's not necessary
LESS THAN a third (32 per cent) of adult Jamaicans say they have health insurance, but more than half of these (53 per cent) have coverage only because they are part of workplace schemes. Fortyfive per cent of the people with insurance are in individual plans. However, an overwhelming majority (89 per cent) would like the Government to implement a national health insurance arrangement similar to what exists in countries like Britain or Canada but without any clear idea of how it is to be funded – a job the Andrew Holness administration recently assigned to a group headed by businessman and chairman of the National Health Fund (NHF) Chris Zacca. The findings are contained in a survey conducted in September by Bill Johnson’s polling organisation for The Gleaner, in collaboration with the NHF, and appear to broadly confirm insurance industry data on the number of Jamaicans under their health plans. According to the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ), up to last December, 368,181 Jamaicans, or approximately 14 per cent of the
overall population, were part of employer-funded health arrangements as opposed to those who had individual plans. However, people in these employer plans represented less than 30 per cent of the employed labour force of around 1.3 million people. Forty-three per cent of those on the insurance rolls were dependents of insured workers. Or looked at another way, there are only a third more primary insured people in workplacerelated schemes than there are dependents.
Based on these numbers and an extrapolation of others with individual and other plans, it would appear that between half a million and 600,000 Jamaicans have access to some kind of insurance. But whatever the precise total, Eric Hosin, the president of the IAJ and CEO of the Guardian Insurance Group, believes the number to be “very low” for the size of Jamaica’s population and workforce.
Last year, insurance companies paid out $15.2 billion in health-related claims, and officials say the industry operates on tight margins. “There is a need to get more persons to purchase health insurance, especially group health insurance, which allows for better spreading of risks. It is cheaper,” Hosin told The Gleaner. “Also, in many instances, the company will assist to pay the premiums. In addition, as a rider to the policy, persons can get health insurance for spouses and children.”
Of the approximately twothirds of Jamaicans without health insurance, not able to afford it (44 per cent) was the main reason they gave for the situation, followed by 10 per cent who deemed such policies to be unnecessary, while 10 per cent indicated
Jovan Johnson Staff Reporter ROBERTS HOSIN 89% Do you think the Government should introduce a National Health Insurance Plan? M e n W o m e n 1 8 - 2 4 2 5 - 3 4 3 5 - 4 4 4 5 - 5 4 55-64 65+ 2% 6% DON’TKNOW AGAINST FAVOUR – Gleaner-conmmissioned Bill Johnson poll