- The Health Council publishes a website list of non-compliant employers at www.bhec.bm/non-compliant.
- Insurers provide the Health Council with a monthly list of companies whose health insurance policies have lapsed with claims not being paid.
- Employers are contacted and asked to provide proof of health coverage before publication on the Council’s website.
(Hamilton, Bermuda – Wednesday, 20th October 2021) – Since June 2015, the Bermuda Health Council (the “Health Council”) was granted the right to publish non-compliant employers on its website to provide employees another way to check their health insurance status and also encourage employers to be compliant. The data for the website list is obtained from monthly reports provided by all local insurers.
Insurers are required by law to report to the Health Council of all terminated or inactive policies with claims not being paid. There was a 20% increase in the number of policies reported by insure in 2020 compared to 2019, with 525 policies reported in total. Policies reported by insurers in 2021 also indicates a high prevalence of employer non-compliance, with 223 policies reported between 1st January 2021 and 30th June 2021.
It is important to note that these calculations include some policies that were reported for two or more consecutive months and therefore counted two or more times. These figures also include policies that were reported as terminated by an insurer, but were transitioned to another insurer, thus not impacting employee coverage.
In addition to monthly reports provided by insurers, the Bermuda Health Council continues to receive a significant number of complaints and queries from members of the public regarding employer compliance with the Health Insurance Act 1970 (the “Act”). The majority of complaints and queries received in 2020 pertained to the cancellation of coverage during a layoff period due to COVID.
Common complaints received from members of the public include:
- Employers not obtaining health insurance for employees
- Employers deducting money from employees pay and not using it to pay for health insurance
- Employees incurring large medical bills during periods of non-coverage
- Employers deducting more money than they should from employee wages
- Employees receiving coverage from an overseas insurer instead of a local insurer
If an employer is non-compliant with the law and an employee incurs medical bills 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 seeks medical attention and learns their health insurance policy is not active, they should submit the medical bills to their employer immediately for payment.
Dr. Ricky Brathwaite, CEO, Bermuda Health Council states, “The right to health care is an internationally recognized human right. In Bermuda that right is usually tied to having adequate insurance so that you can access services that mitigate your financial risks related to uncertain catastrophic health events. At this time, having adequate insurance is usually tied to your employment. As we seek to achieve Universal Health Coverage, it is critical that employers support the human rights of their employees.”
In the midst of this economic climate, it is important to know your rights to health insurance coverage. The Health Council reminds employers and employees of their shared responsibilities for health insurance coverage:
- Employers are encouraged to purchase a policy that is affordable so that payments can be made on time, thereby avoiding any disruptions in coverage.
- Employers should notify employees if a contract of health insurance is not in effect or if there are any changes to the health insurance policy.
- Employers must provide the same coverage to an employee’s non-employed spouse.
- Employers may deduct no more than half of the monthly premium from an employee’s salary or wages toward the enacted health insurance policy.
- Employees should ensure that they receive health insurance at the start of employment, as well as an employment contract outlining their wages and required deductions and itemized pay stubs for their personal records.
- Employees are responsible in notifying their employer of any changes to their non-employed spouse’s employment status.
“If businesses, especially small community businesses, are struggling to pay for 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 following a dream or passion. The realities of the current market can be overwhelming and stressful. So yes, we understand that these times are economically challenging, however, it is not fair to stay silent while exacerbating the risks to health of your employees through not supporting their human rights,” Dr. Brathwaite explains.
If you are concerned about your health insurance coverage, contact us at 292-6420 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The listing of non-complaint employers can be accessed at www.bhec.bm/non-compliant and to view our Employer Compliance Annual Reports visit www.bhec.bm/employers-compliance-reports.