BIG RISK

Two-thirds of J'cans are with­out health in­surance; say they can't af­ford it or it's not nec­es­sary

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

IN­SURANCE PAY­OUT

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

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