A new health insurance scheme negotiated by the organization that champions the well-being of Barbadians aged 50 or above will offer greater benefits than the Golden Health Insurance Plan cancelled last year by the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL).
Details of the plan are to be released on February 1. However, President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) Ed Bushell told Barbados TODAY the new plan would offer members options and benefits such as GP Connect, a programme which aims to support better clinical care by opening up information and data held within the electronic systems of general practitioners for use across health and social care.
“This one is really in three tiers. One is GP Connect, which is a form of case management. If you are a member of BARP and you apply for [it] you can become a member of GP Connect at no cost,” Bushell disclosed without revealing the name of insurance company with which the non-profit organization had struck the deal.
“The second phase is . . . a health savings account, where a member who might not be eligible for insurance in the normal way . . . can use the money that they save as points to pay for their medical costs.”
In announcing its intention to cancel the Golden Health Insurance Plan effective last August, ICBL had said it had been paying out more in claims than it was collecting in premiums.
The insurance company had previously raised premiums for dental coverage by 38 per cent, while coverage for vision had increased by 12 per cent, before dropping coverage for both altogether.
Bushell said the new plan would include vision and dental benefits at the discretion of the insured member and at additional costs.
“So the plan going forward would depend on the members saying yes . . . . We have been trying nearly two years to get a plan to put in place . . . and it is nearly next to impossible given our demographics to get a plan. So the members are going to have to make a decision as to whether or not they want it. I mean, there is no other valid game in town,” he stressed.
Bushell, who met with members on Saturday to advise that a new plan had finally been secured with a different company, said the ball was now in their court to ensure its success.
The BARP head said because of the ages of the clients, this type of deal may never come their way again.
“We want to have the plan to be available to sign up on from the [first of] February, and hopefully if the members agree to the plan, then it would be operational from March 1,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Only about 2,100 of BARP’s over 40,000 members had been part of the ICBL health plan.