Letters to the Editor

We can all do better on healthcare

  • Bring down the costs: no simple solution

Dear Sir,

I am encouraged by our community effort to contain the Covid-19 virus. The threat will continue to be with us, but the way our community has shown such solidarity with social-distancing and mask-wearing is a real testament to who we are.

During the Spanish flu of 1918, many protested the use of masks. Like today, many of them felt masks impinged on their rights. I like to think of mask-wearing as a banner that says, “I care about our community”.

Masks tell me that we are looking out for each other and, critically, that we are preventing the spread to persons who may have other health issues that would make them more vulnerable to serious illness from the virus.

Mask-wearing does have drawbacks. We are inclined to mouthbreathe, which for many reasons is not the healthiest way to get oxygen. Taking long, deep-nose breaths throughout the day is important to our health and, these days, best done alone outside.

Now on the issue of healthcare reform ...

I was interested in the piece that The Royal Gazette published a few weeks ago on the Premier’s “report card” on his government’s performance. I was particularly interested that he gave a low mark for progress on healthcare reform.

It is my opinion that had the Government been willing to listen and sit down with the insurers and the health providers as a working group, we would already have universal healthcare — everyone insured — in place. But its insistence on leading the process of reform with a unified payer scheme — one insurance provider — which so many of the health providers oppose, is a reason for the low marks.

Months ago, close to a year, the insurance companies asked our government to work with them to create universal healthcare. Months ago, health providers asked to have a working group to really tackle the problems in healthcare.

Much of this could have been put in motion before the Covid outbreak, but the Government didn’t respond.

Instead, it has insisted on a position that has the potential of hurting the small practitioners — physicians, dentists, therapists, etc — who, when you look at where our health dollars are spent, account for only about 23 per cent of what is being spent in healthcare in Bermuda. More than 50 per cent of our healthcare dollars go the hospital, the health department and the Ministry of Health.

When I speak out against the unified health plan (one insurance provider), I am speaking out as a patient, I am speaking out as a provider who understands what resources I need to deliver service and I am speaking out as an employer who wants to protect my staff’s jobs.

I am also speaking out as a member of this community.

I believe in personal, confidential service. It isn’t your doctor that is costing our country healthcare dollars and it’s not your doctor that doesn’t want you to receive the care you need. Can our healthcare providers do a better job? I’m sure they can, but we can all be doing a better job. As a patient, I can take better care of my health, knowing that in doing so, in taking that personal responsibility, that I will be helping to bring down the cost of healthcare, which is something we all agree needs to happen.

I feel the Government on its own does not possess the mindset to successfully tackle healthcare. There isn’t a simple solution. It seems like the plans are being made by persons who don’t have real experience in the field. They may have academic experience, but no experience at the delivery end of healthcare — the “one-on-one with patients” experience.

There is no model that we can import. We are small, we have a health profile that is unique to us. We also have very well-trained health providers, many of whom care greatly about the future of healthcare in Bermuda. They are the untapped resource to improving healthcare here.