The government has reported that, before the end of 2022, the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company (CINICO) will begin an expansion project into new lines of business aimed at providing a greater choice of health insurance coverage to more people.
Regarding the expansion, Deputy Premier and Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Chris Saunders said that he and his PACT colleagues “addressed the issue of health insurance both broadly and specifically and are now “turning our ideas into reality.”
He also noted that “expanding CINICO’s health coverage to a wider population will help to achieve several objectives of this government and answer the pleas of uninsured and under-insured Caymanians and residents that have gone un-answered for far too long.”
According to the government, the plan is for CINICO to first expand health insurance services to a wider population through developing affordable health insurance plans for younger and healthier residents, followed by a plan for retirees; and offering a health insurance option to Public Servants allowing for a choice of health care providers, which will require the establishment of a local provider network.
As to the sustainability of the plan, Saunders said:
At a higher level, CINICO’s expansion will address the commitment made in our Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) of ensuring an equitable, sustainable, and successful healthcare system as well as providing solutions to improve the well-being of our people so they can achieve their full potential. On the ground level, we are delivering on our promise to provide the public with an option that is affordable and includes a mechanism for accommodating coverage of pre-existing conditions for qualifying Caymanian retirees. We are matching our actions directly to our words to better benefit the people of these Islands.
Other short-term expansion plans include providing Property & Casualty (residential and auto) insurance to Public Sector employees and their families. CINICO is aiming to offer the health insurance coverage to younger and healthier residents by the end of the year, and to retirees thereafter. Property and casualty operations are anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 or first quarter 2023.
Saunders emphasized that expanding health care coverage and adding the new lines of business would diversify CINICO’s risk profile and by extension the risk to the Government.
During the 14-year period between 2009 and 2023, Core Government’s healthcare costs are forecast to increase by 120% from almost $91 million in 2009 to just under $200 million in 2023. Healthcare costs represent an average of 19% of Core Government’s Total Operating Expenses, indicating that it is becoming more difficult for the public purse to sustain the increasing costs.
Referring to the withdrawal of a major insurer from the Cayman Islands market in 2021, Saunders noted that expansion of the national insurance company’s products would also protect residents against being left without coverage should there be any further closures in the private insurance sector.
The withdrawal was a shock to the market as many individuals and businesses had to find new health insurance providers and individuals, especially those with pre-existing conditions, found it difficult to obtain affordable health insurance. To mitigate similar shocks to the Cayman market in the future, it is important that the Government is in the position to be able to provide individuals and businesses with the option of affordable health, auto and property insurance.
Regarding funding for the expansion of product and service areas, CINICO currently has sufficient surplus capital to fund the planned health insurance expansions. However, CINICO will need additional capital for the planned property and casualty expansions. On Tuesday, April 5, Cabinet approved CINICO’s expansion plans and the requisite supplementary funding of $10.35 million ($5.35 million in 2022 and $5.0 million in 2023), via Section 12 of the Public Management and Finance Act (2020 Revision). The approval of these funds will go to the next session of Finance Committee, which is planned for May 2022
CINICO CEO Michael Gayle noted that his management team are excited about the prospects of the expansion, and the future of CINICO.
We look forward to playing our part in making things better for our people in these Cayman Islands. Health-care costs continue to spiral, but we are confident that working with our sister organization, Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, and with external medical providers with whom we will enter into a Preferred Provider Network arrangement, collectively, we will be able to play a part in bringing some stability to health care costs here in Cayman. We also look forward to providing options to the existing slate of residential and auto insurance options. Exciting times are ahead at CINICO.
It is past time that CINICO truly becomes a national insurance provider. The potential has been there and must now be realised to provide the public with more insurance options – health, property, and auto – that they require. This is especially true regarding health insurance, which is becoming increasingly expensive, with more and more of our retirees being excluded due to pre-existing conditions, or simply aging out at 65 from private insurance plans. This puts an unbearable burden on our retirees, which then falls on the Government to carry. Expanding CINICO will both reduce these costs and provide healthcare to more of our people, while also allowing our seniors to age with health and dignity. Through such timely and prudent expansions, we hope to see CINICO eventually become the insurance provider of choice for all residents of the Cayman Islands.