Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Slow security - Guards not rushing to sign up for health insurance scheme

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 1:04 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
A security guard on duty.

Private security guards have been slow to take up the opportunity to sign up for a self-contributory health insurance scheme despite pleading for such a development for years.

At the scheduled December 31, 2016 start-up of the scheme, only 500 of the approximately 23,000 private security guards in the island had signed up for the scheme, but executive director of the Private Security Regulation Authority (PSRA), Rosalyn Campbell, is pleased with the interest so far.

“We did not expect to have about 500 applications in that short time,” said Campbell.

“We are not surprised because most of them had said it was a little bit difficult for them to pay it in Christmas,” added Campbell, as she sought to explain why more persons have not yet signed up for the health insurance scheme.

PROPOSED LAST JULY

The insurance plan, which is being provided through Guardian Life, was proposed by Minister of National Security Robert Montague from July last year during the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

It was officially launched in November and security guards were encouraged to join so that their plan could become effective in time for the new year.

“We want the guards to be able to take care of their health and the health of their families,” said Montague at that time.

Security guards can access an individual health plan for $997 per month and a family plan for $1,473 per month. High categories of wage earners can pay up to $2,725 to access even more benefits.

Of the 500 security guards who have so far applied to join the health insurance plan, only 122 have paid up.

According to Campbell, apart from the fact some security guards were not able to make payment during the Christmas period, others have been reluctant to have their employers make the payments on their behalf.

“One of the issues we have had is that a lot of the guards prefer to pay it directly because a lot of them do not want the company to deduct,” said Campbell.

PAYMENT METHODS

She noted that one of the options available to security guards is to make their payment at the PSRA office.

The PSRA official argued that the insurance scheme is good for the security guards as the reality is that many are overworked and this can contribute to health issues.

“A lot of them, they work them around the clock. Many of them on their jobs, they can’t afford not to go in one day because if they are ill any at all, they have no way to even get a $3,000 paid, and most of them would agree when you speak to them,” she said.

She said the next focus will be on getting a pension plan in place for security guards as many have been expressing an interest in having this available.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com