There seems to be slow improvement in the financial situation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) which was described as ‘being in the red’ when the 2019 budget address was delivered a few months ago; and now possibly under threat as the 2020 budget estimates were presented. In both instances the disclosure of the state of financial wellness were made by Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie.
The National Health Insurance was launched as a solution to the medical access and cost barrier plight of the residents of the BVI. It was a situation that had been plaguing the Territory for years and burdening the public purse. While NHI’s arrival has addressed a number of issues, NHI itself has suffered from unforeseen liabilities that now threaten its viability.
In noting that things are still not great the Premier announced during his budget presentation on 19 November that Government has plans to zero in on the situation: “Your Government also intends to carry out a comprehensive restructuring of the NHI as the current scheme is unsustainable and is in threat of failure,” Hon. Fahie announced.
During the 2019 budget debate on 25 April the Premier explained the dilemma facing the National Health Insurance and stated that he learnt about the situation during the Standing Finance Committee.
In bringing the matter to light the Premier said: “NHI was supposed to look after us when we were sick nearly made us sick when they told us that they are two million and change in the red. As a matter of fact, it had an argument in the room between them and Finance on who had got what and who didn’t get what. When it was finished … it was finished NHI had won the war.”
Hon. Fahie explained that the situation with the Health Insurance started from day one as it was revealed that the entity was not provided the funds it was promised. “NHI stated that they were to be given $11.5M when it started but they were never given the money so they started with a deficit.”
“That was something that we were saying when we were in the opposition, but we were told no. Later on now they are saying only in February 2019 they receive $2.5M and NHI going now a few years,” Hon. Fahie noted.
At that time the Premier also mentioned that his government was tasked with finding money to inject in the NHI: “Now who have to go look money for NHI it aint the same government that just reach in. Where we gon get it from aint that same money that they say they leave in abundance well if you leave it in abundance take care of your responsibilities…These are people waiting on their monies,” Hon. Fahie said.