Today’s Editiorial December 06: Insurance issue troubling

West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin raised an issue with a Private Member’s Motion in the Legislative Assembly Monday that he called a ‘troubling aspect of health insurance cover’.

The aspect Mr. Anglin was talking about concerns the portability of health insurance when an employee in the Cayman Islands changes jobs.

Under the provisions of the current Health Insurance Law, which only provides for a certain degree of portability, some employees or their dependents are losing coverage – or having certain conditions excluded – simply as a result of changing jobs.

Mr. Anglin suggested that health insurance had become the key determinant as to whether a person changes jobs, particularly if the person or one of his dependents has any kind of medical condition. As a result, Mr. Anglin thinks many in the workforce are effectively indentured servants, stuck in their jobs even when better opportunities arise.

It’s easy to see that there is something wrong with that scenario, however fixing the problem is easier said than done.

It is one thing for a person to have coverage with a particular health insurance provider through his or her work and to expect that coverage to continue covering everything it did before when a person changes jobs and the new employer uses the same provider. In that case, it is hard to imagine how the provider can justify excluding conditions it was already covering just because a person changed jobs.

But what if the person’s new employer used a different health insurance provider than his or her previous employer? Is it fair to ask a new provider to accept paying for a condition it knows someone has? This would go against standard practice in the insurance industry and would almost certainly have to be subsidised through increased premiums by other policyholders.

Any resolution to this problem, therefore, will not be easily determined.

Health Minister Anthony Eden said the Government would review the matter, but said any changes to the Health Insurance Law would have to be done with consultation with all the relevant parties in the insurance industry.

But the portability issue goes beyond just those changing jobs locally. Many expatriates reaching their term limit will also be unable to insure conditions they developed during their time in Cayman when they return home or go to some other jurisdiction.

This fact could be just another reason expatriates workers from some countries might shy away from Cayman. This is especially possible with experienced workers who are a little older and more likely to develop a health condition that could be left exposed without insurance coverage when they leave the island.

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