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Published 4th December 2006, 11:56am

By Alan Markoff

The Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a Private Member’s Motion brought by Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin to look into the issue of the portability of health insurance when employees in the Cayman Islands change jobs.

“This motion seeks to address what has been a long outstanding and troubling aspect of private health insurance cover,” Mr. Anglin said when introducing the motion.

Of particular concern is the fact that people who have health conditions covered by insurance are losing coverage on that condition when they change jobs, sometimes even if their new employer had the same insurance that their previous employer had.

“[The new insurance company} is able to deem anything that was a pre–existing condition not covered,” Mr. Anglin said. “That runs contrary to what the spirit of the Cayman Islands Health Insurance Law was when it came into effect.”

Mr. Anglin argued that the spirit and intention of the law was that once you had health insurance coverage and changed jobs, you would remain covered with no less favourable coverage than what you had at the time you entered the health insurance system.

Citing an example, Mr. Anglin said he knew of a case where an employed man with a child dependent with a serious health condition was offered another, better paying job. Because his new prospective employer used the same health insurer, both he and the employer thought he could transfer his insurance for all of his dependents. However, when the insurance company issued the coverage through the new employer, it would not cover the man’s child with the medical condition.

“Because of a gap in [the Health Insurance Law] regulations, health insurance providers utilize it… to exclude conditions they were already covering.

“This should not be allowed to continue in this country.”

Mr. Anglin said the issue has made health insurance the key determinant as to whether a person changes jobs.

“It’s caused a large element of our work force to effectively become indentured servants,” he said, adding that some people are unable to change jobs even when they want to because they or one of their dependents will lose insurance coverage if they do.

“This runs contrary to the spirit of the Health Insurance Law that exists in the Cayman Islands.”

Mr. Anglin said the situation was an absolutely deplorable situation for the consumer.

“We must be able to have people work for who they want without having to worry if the health insurance providers will drop their coverage.

Health Minister Anthony Eden rose to respond to the motion.

“This is a matter which has been brought to my attention by a number of employees and by the board of directors of the Health Insurance Commission,” he said.

Mr. Eden said the issue was being fully investigated by Government, but noted that any changes to the law would have to be done with consultation with all the relevant parties in the insurance industry.

“[The Government] has convened a working group to review this matter and advise how it could best be addressed.”