Massive health-care fine increases proposed

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Government fines charged to companies that ignore legal
requirements to provide health care coverage to employees would  quadruple in some cases under proposed
legislation released Friday.

The Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2010, would also –
if approved by the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly – allow the country’s
Health Insurance Commission to issue direct fines to employers who haven’t
covered workers properly.

The bill would give the superintendent of health
insurance the ability to fine a company $1,000 for each offence, and apply a
fee of up to $100 per day while that offence under the Health Insurance Law continues.

Health Minister Mark
Scotland told lawmakers earlier in the year that such a proposal would be
forthcoming. Although the bill still gives a company the right to appeal
commission fines before a court of summary jurisdiction, if the company were to
lose that appeal in court it would have to pay the additional per day fines
imposed by the commission. 

The
increased fines for various offences under the newly proposed Health Insurance
Bill include:

Fines
against companies that are not approved insurers in the Cayman Islands who
issue health insurance contracts would go from $20,000 to $100,000, and fines
for continuing offences would increase from $1,000 to $5,000 per day. A jail
sentence of up to one year can also be given as punishment upon conviction.

Employers
who fail to provide and put into effect a standard health insurance contract
would be fined $30,000 upon summary conviction and $40,000 upon conviction following indictment.
Previously, those fines were $5,000 and $10,000, respectively.

An
employer who deducts more from a worker’s salary for health insurance costs
than is allowable under the law would see Summary Court fines go from $5,000 to
$30,000, and fines for conviction upon indictment would increase from $10,000
to $40,000.

If
employees are not provided with certain details about their health insurance
coverage by their employer – such as the names and addresses of approved
insurers – fines upon summary conviction will increase from $5,000 to $15,000
with an added per-day penalty of $1,000. Previously, the per-day assessment was
$100.

The
fine for failing to extend a worker’s health care coverage would go from $5,000
to $30,000 per instance that occurs following conviction.

Corporate
bodies that commit offences under the Health Insurance Law would see fines
increase from $2,000 to $5,000 upon summary conviction, and an increase from
$5,000 to $15,000 in fines upon conviction from an indictment.

Health
care providers or facilities in Cayman that fail to provide a list of service
fees to the Commission could be fined $15,000 on conviction, if this bill is
passed. The previous fine was $5,000.

The
increased fines are just one of many changes to Cayman’s health care regime
announced earlier in the year by Mr. Scotland.

Some
maximum health insurance coverage amounts – known as caps – will change this
year if Mr. Scotland gets his way, though that issue was not addressed in the
bill made public on Friday.

Currently,
the country’s standard health insurance contract sets maximum coverage limits
per incident of illness at $25,000.

Mr.
Scotland said Cayman’s Health Insurance Commission has recommended that the
per-incident cap be removed.

Yearly
maximum coverage limits of $100,000, and lifetime coverage limits of $1 million
will remain, the minister said.

Other
changes include allowing for ‘portability’” of health care coverage, allowing
people who switch jobs to still be eligible for coverage even though they have
certain pre-existing medical conditions. 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Maximum per incident coverage of $25,000.00 would mean death in the event of a serious injury to people under a standard plan. I am under this coverage and I have to pray that no serious injury will befall me. It has already happened to the lady that was struck by a car in the vacinity of Grand Harbour.

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  2. I worked for a private company on the island and did NOT have insurance for the first 6 months I worked there. I pleaded with them to get it in place — terrified I would get sick or get in an accident and have no coverage — and they dragged their feet, giving excuse after excuse. $1,000 is certainly not enough of a fine — look how much they saved by not paying for 6 months! Almost $2,000. So, the fine should be $5000 minimum — enough of a deterrent employers don’t gamble with our health insurance

    I thought it was Illegal for an employer not to provide health coverage. Apparently, not so! I complained to several government agencies (dept. of immigration, labour board, dept of ed.) etc and no-one would do anything — just passed the buck. I was impotent to do anything. So, it’s all fine and dandy that they want to put these fines in place — but will anyone actually enforce anything ????

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