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Stabroek News

Blue Cross CEO wants health savings accounts
published: Sunday | September 3, 2006


Professor Errol Morrison

Ross Sheil, Staff Reporter

Professor Errol Morrison, president of Blue Cross and a leading member of the Jamaican health profession, has proposed that Government establish health savings accounts to benefit pensioners.

Speaking at the 40th anniversary luncheon of the Jamaica Government Pensioners Association held at the Alhambra Inn in St. Andrew, yesterday, Professor Morrison suggested that the health savings accounts could be funded from National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions or an additional levy and then managed by an experienced firm such as Blue Cross. The accounts would then be made available to persons upon retirement, set nationally at age 65 for men and 60 for women.

Blue Cross in America has only recently started offering such accounts, Professor Morrison said.

"What it means is that you don't have health insurance policies where you pay out of your premium, but rather that you pay out of your pockets while you're still earning," he explained.

Aging population

Such an account, he reasoned, made sense given that the Caribbean is the most rapidly aging population in the world. However, Professor Morrison said that it was a new idea and that Blue Cross had only just completed a report on the local feasibility and was also considering offering accounts for workers in the sugar cane industry.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was the guest speaker at the event, in responding to a wish list from pensioners association president Clinton Davis, said that Government was committed to assessing the feasibility of establishing a national centre for pensioners. She said that the Financial Services Commission was also carrying out a review of the industry, due for submission to government by March of next year.

Mrs. Simpson Miller, formerly the portfolio minister under whose watch the Government began to aggressively invest the National Insurance Fund, told the audience that her government would continue to try and raise the level of pensions.

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