Our domestic helpers and labourers are facing a health insurance crisis.
Their wages are so low that they can barely afford to pay for half the medical insurance their employers are required to take out on them.
Usually those policies are standard, which means the maximum benefit payable is $25,000.
That looks like a hefty sum on a sheet of paper.
But it’s not a drop in the bucket if someone has an extended illness, a long hospital stay, or even worse, has to be airlifted to another country for healthcare.
Healthcare is expensive.
And while employers are required under Cayman Islands law to provide health insurance for their workers, many don’t because they either can’t afford it or the employee doesn’t want to pay his part.
It’s a given that the maximum on the standard policy has to be increased from $25,000 to something greater.
That was made evident this past weekend when premature twins died at the Cayman Islands Hospital because, although they were insured, hospitals in the region wouldn’t accept the maximum $25,000 – they wanted a whole lot more – or the hospitals that would have taken them had no place to put them as the equipment was already being used saving the lives of other premature babies.
Their deaths were not the fault of the Health Services Aduthority. The staff there did all they could to keep those children alive.
Their deaths were the fault of an inadequate health insurance, one that’s got to be fixed to bring up the $25,000 figure.
But who’s going to bear the burden of increased costs?
The employee who can’t afford what’s available to him now certainly won’t.
And if the employer has to dig deeper in his pockets, he’ll probably do one of two things:
He’ll increase his price of doing business, thereby driving up the cost of living even more in the Cayman Islands;
Or he’ll cut his employee’s wage.
We have no minimum wage in the Cayman Islands.
We are failing our low income workers in the Cayman Islands, and they aren’t all expatriates.