Today’s Editorial August 19: Talk is cheap

Yesterday, we carried a story about employers who were fined all of $300 for not carrying health insurance for one of their employees.

Commenting on the situation, Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly said 1,181 complaints of non-payment of mandatory health insurance were made in the one-year period between 1 July 2008 and 30 June 2009. This amounts to more than 4.5 complaints every working day.

Mr. Conolly said it was not optional for employers to maintain health insurance for their employees. He said the Health Insurance Commission was considering a change in legislation to increase the fines for non-compliance with the law.

The problem is we’ve heard this from Mr. Conolly before. The Health Insurance Commission has been considering making changes to the Health Insurance Law for several years now.

In addition to harsher penalties for non-compliant employers, the Health Insurance Commission in considering increasing the $25,000 maximum benefit per episode of injury or illness under the Standard Health Insurance Contract.

But despite assurances the Commission is considering acting, it never does. It’s not Mr. Conolly’s fault, and we’re sure he’s as frustrated as anyone that nothing ever happens.

The people behind the scene know what is at stake. Employers who deduct health insurance from their employees’ pay and then fail to provide that health insurance should really be guilty of theft.

Any non-Caymanian who develops a life-threatening medical condition is likely going to die if they only have the standard health insurance policy.

It seems, however, that no one with authority cares enough about these matters to do anything about it.