Jamaican Consulate Honorary Vice-Consul Elaine Harris, Health Insurance Inspector Rawle Graham, and Health Insurance Inspector Melissa Maize spoke at event on Tuesday night about the rights and obligations people have in Cayman when it comes to health insurance. - Photo: Ken Silva

On Dec. 27, flames engulfed a nine-bedroom residence on Shedden Road, injuring three people and leaving nine others homeless.

One of the victims was a woman without health insurance. She was injured to the point where she had to be airlifted to Jamaica, where she continues to receive treatment.

Fortunately for the victim, the law here makes employers legally responsible for insuring their workers. Therefore, the woman “should” have much of her medical expenses covered by her employer, according to Elaine Harris, the honorary vice consul for the Jamaican Consulate.

However, incidents of uninsured people in the territory suffering severe injuries are all too common, Ms. Harris said. That is why she held an event Tuesday night featuring officials from the Health Insurance Commission, who explained the rights and obligations residents have when it comes to health insurance.

Speaking at the event, Health Insurance Inspector Rawle Graham said that all Cayman Islands residents are required to have insurance.

Employers are responsible for providing health insurance for all of their employees, the employee’s unemployed spouse and any of the employee’s dependent children who reside in the jurisdiction. Under the standard health insurance plan, employers will cover 50 percent of the premiums and the other half will come from an employee’s salary, Mr. Graham said.

If a “high-risk” employee does not qualify for the standard package because of high blood pressure or another medical condition, then the employer would still only pay 50 percent of what the standard plan would cost, and the worker would have to cover the rest, he added.

Mr. Graham said that he realizes many workers do not file complaints about their employers failing to provide them with insurance because they fear losing their jobs. However, this is not a wise decision on the part of the businesses, he said, because eventually either the worker suffers a serious injury or the employee-employer relationship sours.

When this happens, businesses are often saddled with $50,000 or more in medical bills, according to Mr. Graham, who said that he currently has several such cases in front of the Health Insurance Commission.

These enforcement efforts have led to continuous improvements in the number of businesses complying with the law, and the current compliance rate is 93 percent, he said.

Mr. Graham and his colleague, Health Insurance Inspector Melissa Maize, went into detail about the costs and benefits individuals can expect under various insurance plans.

Mr. Graham explained that rates for the standard plan may vary among individuals depending on age and other variables, but that the cost should be capped at $167 per month.

For other more expensive plans, individuals have the right to obtain quotes from insurance companies and check with the commission to make sure the quotes are realistic, he said.

Along with enforcing the existing legislation, the Health Insurance Commission is preparing to launch a survey with the Ministry of Health aimed at elderly people, said Ms. Maize. The results of this survey will be used to create a health insurance plan that is tailored to the elderly.

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