The writing is on the wall, and in the absence of “impactful changes soon, the younger generations will be paying for our inaction in the future”.

That’s the crux of the 2017 National Health Accounts Report released by the Bermuda Health Council (BHeC), which calls for a cultural and policy shift to cut unsustainable healthcare costs.

As it stands now, the BHeC warned that Bermuda’s healthcare system has reached the “breaking point”.

This after health expenditure topped $704.1 million between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, representing a $13 million increase over the previous year.

BHeC Policy Analyst for Data and Research, Tiara Carlington: “We need a cultural and policy shift to really see a decrease in the cost of healthcare.

“Premiums and the cost of care will continue to rise if we spend money in the same places.

“Unfortunately, focusing heavily on curative care comes at the expense of programmes that target other areas such as preventive and promotive care, which could improve the overall health of the population.”

The $10.2 million increase was attributed to costs to support inpatient services, cost increases and an increase in the use of services from community providers.

The BHeC statement said: “Our healthcare system is at a breaking point. We cannot continue with the status quo and we must make bold moves to change this course.

“As a community, we are investing the majority of our healthcare dollars in curative care. This category includes care provided after you have been in an accident, after a diagnosis has been made or, after an emergency event has changed your life.

“When compared to other countries, on average, Bermuda’s residents spend more but are not healthier.”

Faced with an ageing population, the BHeC said real changes are necessary because less working people means less cash to fund the island’s healthcare system.

“If we do not make impactful changes soon, the younger generations will be paying for our inaction in the future.

“This demographic shift, coupled with overindulgence, unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles means that patients will end up seeking more complex and emergency care to fix or manage preventable health issues.

“To overcome these real and pending problems, we, as a society, need to spend our money more wisely.”

And the BHeC called for a national discussion to generate feedback, but ultimately, the BHeC said: “This change requires hard work and commitment.”

The BHeC also listed the following:

Total Health Expenditure in FYE 2016:

  • Total health expenditure was $704.1 million, a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year
  • Health expenditure represents 11.5 percent of the GDP
  • Health expenditure per capita was $11,362 an increase of 2.2 percent

Where did the money come from?

  • 27.4 percent ($192 million) of financing was from the public sector
  • 72.6 percent ($509 million) of financing was from the private sector 
  • Health insurance premiums accounted for 62.3 percent ($436.7 million) of health financing
  • Individual out-of-pocket payments accounted for 9.7 percent of health financing
  • Donations to non-profit organisations 0.7 percent ($4.7 million) of health financing

How was the money spent?

  • 51.4 percent ($360.6 million) of health expenditure was in the private sector entities
  • 48.6 percent ($340.9 million) of health expenditure was in the public sector entities
  • Of the total expenditure on public sector entities, 89.7 percent ($323.3 million) was spent on inpatient and outpatient care services provided by Bermuda Hospitals Board
  • Overseas care accounted for 12.1 percent ($84.7) of total health expenditure
  • Local community providers accounted for 21.5 percent ($151 million) of total health expenditure
  • Prescription drugs accounted for 6.3 percent ($44.2 million) of total health expenditure
  • Health insurance administration accounted for 8.7 percent ($61 million) of health expenditure

The 2017 National Health Accounts Report can be found at www.bhec.bm/national-health-accounts.