by Larry Smith
Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez says the government has contracted Costa Rican-based consultants to help implement the national health plan which will be phased in sometime next year.
Gomez has put Bahamian healthcare spending today at almost 10 per cent of our $8 billion GDP. That represents some $800 million in total annual spending - including public and private as well as overseas health spending. The private sector accounts for about half of this money, experts say.
In 2004 Gomez chaired the commission which recommended that the Bahamas adopt a financing system called social health insurance, which pools payments from all residents to pay for universal healthcare. Individuals could still buy private insurance to cover areas ineligible for reimbursement by the public system.
This is the system operating in many countries around the world, including highly rated models like the French and Singaporean healthcare services. But the bottom line is this: Ideological arguments notwithstanding, experts say there is no single type of system "that performs systematically better in delivering cost-effective healthcare."
According to the 34-nation OECD, both market-based and command-and-control systems have their strengths and weaknesses. "It seems to be less the type of system that matters, but rather how it is managed."
And that is the key to the success of NHI in the Bahamas. Proper management is critical to the future health of our economy, as well as that of our citizens.