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Health Council: $84.5M Spent On Overseas Care

Bermuda spent $84.5 million on overseas care between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016, with $6M going toward transportation and accommodation, according to a new report from the Bermuda Health Council.

“Recognising the importance of specialised overseas care to health outcomes, the Bermuda Health Council developed a report, Overseas Care: A Synopsis of Trends for the Island of Bermuda to provide a more in-depth analysis of how much money was spent, where and on what type of care,” BHeC said.

Chart #1 extracted from the report:

“Bermuda needs to be wise about the resources that are available on island for healthcare. With 61,295 people, the quality of healthcare can be compromised by limited use of services, complex services or experience of those delivering care.

“To ensure that Bermuda’s residents have access to specialized healthcare, strategic partnerships have been formed with overseas facilities enabling residents to receive much needed care.

“For example, in 2015/16, 32 people went overseas for treatment for complex, brain-related injuries. Often, these injuries occur during road traffic accidents and require immediate need for assistance. Bermuda cannot provide these services to patients because of the lack of volume and trained personnel.

Chart #2 extracted from the report:

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“Providing these services would mean implementing expensive resources to perform procedures on a limited number of cases. More importantly, the quality of care for complex brain related injuries may be compromised. Lack of volume also means that local health professionals would not receive sufficient experience handling these cases.

“Furthermore, ancillary staff such as nurses, and pharmacists may not be sufficiently familiar with these types of conditions to ensure they are doing their job well and patients are getting the best care necessary.

A few key highlights from the report:

  • Claims for overseas care and ancillary services were paid to over 5,000 different overseas providers.
  • Massachusetts was the most utilised location for Bermuda’s residents to receive overseas care.
  • On average, claims paid to overseas providers were $345 more than claims paid to local providers.
  • The most common overseas provider types used [outside of hospital services] were paediatric care, spinal care, dermatology, radiology, pharmacy, pathology, psychology, ophthalmology and orthopaedic medicine.
  • Expenditure in overseas care has more than doubled since 2004, although there has been a decrease in expenditure since 2014.

Tawanna Wedderburn, CEO, said: “This Synopsis provides an opportunity for health professionals, especially specialist physicians, to take the lead in referring Bermuda’s residents to cost-effective facilities with good health outcomes.

“The Health Council decided to publish this Synopsis, anticipating that it will encourage robust discussion and more critical thinking about the clinical needs of our residents. We also hope that insurers’ negotiations with overseas facilities would yield greater value for money.

“As the Health Council envisions Bermuda as the healthiest island in the world, we encourage active participation and national discussions about systemic improvements.”

Chart #3 extracted from the report:

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Ricky Brathwaite, Director, Health Economics, said: “Overseas care is funded by all residents through tax dollars, insurance premiums, out of pocket payments, loans and charitable donations.

“We have a collective responsibility to take more control of our health and wellbeing, and its costs by having necessary conversations about healthcare. Bermuda’s residents should ask more questions about costs and quality.

“Our residents should and insist that health professionals, policy makers and insurers make the best decisions about treating and paying for our physical, mental and dental health.”

The full Overseas Care report is below [PDF here]

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