A lag in the payment of government-supported health insurance premiums has prompted officials to reassure policyholders that their coverage remains intact.
Over 235 applications were submitted for government support through a Health Insurance Premiums Payment Assistance Program (PPAP) set up by Hon. Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour in May.
The scheme is intended to alleviate financial pressures on policyholders due to the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Cayman.
However, issues between the insurance providers and government over implementing the scheme resulted in delays in the payments being made as planned.
The Ministry of Health now says that “in response to concerns from some members of the community, it can confirm that the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) has approved 235 applications under the program to assist with continuation of health insurance premiums for persons affected by the COVID-19 crisis.”
According to Health Minister Seymour: “There has been worry that persons who have applied to the HIC have lost coverage, however, the public should be aware that the HIC has been liaising with the approved insurers to submit their invoices for settlement of the April and May premiums in order to get this finalized quickly.
For the April premiums, 100 applications were received of which 77 were approved for payment totalling CI$84,492.13.
That amount ensured health insurance coverage for 559 employees and dependents.
There were 186 requests for assistance with the May premiums. Of that, 148 were approved totalling premiums of CI $128, 212.27. That amount covered 809 employees and dependents.
The Ministry says that as of Friday, July 10th 2020, the Ministry had received invoices from two approved insurers, with the remaining six insurers pending submission.
Mr Seymour has given an assurance that the remaining invoices have been received and that the Ministry was working to provide “a quick turnaround for settlement.”
He said: “We continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our commitment is finalized.”
Given the concerns raised about the delay in processing the payments, Director of the Department of Health Regulatory Services and Superintendent of Health Insurance, Mervyn Conolly offered this explanation:
"The HIC had recommended that the notice to stakeholders in regards to April’s submission be extended to the 27th May to allow more time for the submission of the application”.
“The Hon. Minister announced the program on the 13th May and at the time it was projected that several hundred applications would have been submitted.”
Despite this, 100 applications were received and processed for the April premium payment assistance covering approximately 559 persons, while 186 applications were received and processed for the month of May covering approximately 809 persons.
Mr Connolly said now that all invoices have been received, they should be able to catch up "fairly quickly".
Acting Chief Officer Ms. Nellie Pouchie, said she was pleased to see the Ministry of Health, through the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) deliver on the vision of Hon Minister Seymour "of providing assistance to members of our community with payment of their health insurance premiums during the months of April through June 2020.”
“As everyone is painfully aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented persons and businesses with very challenging and unexpected difficulties; the Cayman Islands being no exception,” she added.
When he launched the Premiums Payment Assistance Program (PPAP) in May, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said at that time that the purpose of the program is to assist needy employees with the maintenance of their health insurance coverage.
He said that this would be done by subsidizing the payment of their health insurance premium due to the subsequent closure of many businesses, which resulted in many employees losing their jobs or being furloughed.