Pandemic hits health insurance coverage as companies fail to pay premiums – The Royal Gazette
Created: Oct 22, 2021 7:58 AM
Disclaimer: Ricky Brathwaite, Executive Director of the Bermuda Health Council (file photo)
The number of complaints against employers who failed to make health insurance payments for staff has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed.
The Bermuda Health Council said there had been a 20% increase in the number of canceled policies reported by insurers in 2020 compared to 2019, with 525 policies reported in total.
A BHeC spokeswoman said reports suggested a “high prevalence of employer non-compliance” continued this year, with 223 policy cancellations reported in the first six months.
She added: “In addition to the monthly reports provided by the insurers, the Bermuda Board of Health continues to receive a significant number of complaints and inquiries from members of the public regarding employers’ compliance with the Labor Act 1970. ‘Health Insurance.
“The majority of complaints and queries received in 2020 were about cancellation of coverage during a period of layoff due to Covid. “
BHeC said the majority of complaints concerned employers’ failure to obtain health insurance for employees, deductions from employee wages that were not used to pay for health insurance and a withholding of more than money as needed for bonuses.
The spokesperson said: “If an employer does not follow the law and an employee incurs medical expenses during a period of non-coverage, the employer is responsible for paying the medical bills, which are often more expensive than monthly premiums.
“If an employee sees a doctor and learns that their health insurance policy is not active, they must immediately submit medical bills to their employer for payment.
Ricky Brathwaite, Chairman and CEO of the Board, said: “The right to health care is an internationally recognized human right.
“In Bermuda, this right is usually tied to adequate insurance so that you can access services that mitigate your financial risks from uncertain catastrophic health events.
“Right now, having adequate insurance is usually tied to your job.
“As we seek to achieve universal health coverage, it is essential that employers support the human rights of their employees. “
Dr Brathwaite added, “If businesses, especially small community businesses, are having trouble paying for their health insurance, seek help from entities such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
“Businesses strive to be sustainable, and for some, so much personal time and financial investment has gone into pursuing a dream or passion. The realities of today’s market can be overwhelming and stressful.
“So yes, we understand these are economically difficult times, however, it is not fair to remain silent while exacerbating the health risks to your employees by not standing up for their human rights.”
Sousa’s Landscape Management is one of 17 companies listed by BHeC as not having “provided the requested evidence as proof that the employer had concluded or maintained in force a health insurance contract”.
Jeff Sousa, President of the Company, said: “Our company, like so many others, feels the pain of these really difficult times that we are all going through.
“We are in the process of putting in additional funding and I assure you that our company’s health insurance is our top priority.”
Anyone affected by their health insurance coverage should contact BHeC on 292 6420 or by e-mail [email protected]
BHeC publishes the names of non-compliant employers on its website to give employees another way to check their health insurance status and also to encourage employers to follow the rules.