Bahamas moving towards universal health care
The Bahamas government is moving ahead with a plan to provide all nationals, regardless of their financial means, with access to universal health care.
"The mission of The Bahamas government is to provide quality health care that is affordable and accessible to all its citizens," said Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez at the roll-out of the implementation strategy for the Universal Health Insurance system (UHI).
Gomez said details of the UHI will be announced after ongoing stakeholder consultations with all key parties have been concluded.
"We are taking the time to consult with Bahamians, local organisations, health-care professionals and consultants to develop a plan that is sustainable for the long term," added Chief Medical Officer Dr Glen Beneby.
The government is hoping that from January 2016, every legal Bahamian resident will have access to health care throughout the country's network of private and public doctors, clinics and hospitals.
Bahamas spends over US$2,300 per capita on health care, annually, almost double other countries in the region, the government said.
But they note that despite this high level of spending, life expectancy is lower than many countries, including Barbados, Belize and Grenada.
UHI will focus on improving health outcomes while also producing annual savings, projected to reach US$160 million in 10 years.
The majority of the financing will come from existing resources in the health system, according to the government, which says more costings and financial details will be available soon.
"The health and well-being of Bahamians remain a priority of this government. We are taking the time to ensure that the plan we present is the best possible option for all Bahamians," the health official said.