• International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1.  In Bermuda, the theme for the 2018 International Workers’ Day is “Affordable & Accessible Healthcare in Bermuda For All’, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. The following was submitted for publication by Bermuda Real, by Bermuda Trade Union Congress President Senator Jason Hayward, on April 24, 2018. 
BTUC & BPSU President, Senator Jason Hayward

On May 1, 2018, International Worker s’ Day  (May Day), the Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC) will join with global fraternal Unions and the rest of the world to remember the struggles and celebrate the contributions that

workers have made in the fight for universal rights, privileges and the rule of law.
The BTUC’s theme for 2018 is ‘Affordable and Accessible Healthcare in Bermuda for All’. Recognising that the cost of  Bermuda’s healthcare is alarming to all workers and their families, the BTUC selected  this year’s theme  as a means to implore all stakeholders to commit to finding solutions to  Bermuda’s healthcare crisis.
To that end, the BTUC is calling on all affiliate union members and citizens of Bermuda to join the BTUC at a rally and march on May 1starting from Victoria Park at 12pm.
The Bermuda Health Strategy Report 2014  – 2019 states:
“Compared to other high-income  countries Bermuda’s health system is not providing value for money as measured by health outcomes for the level of expenditure.”
It is undisputable that  Bermuda’s health system is overly-strained and  failing Bermuda’s residents . This is evident as all residents do not have access to basic health insurance coverage and healthcare contributions are not affordable. In addition, the long-term healthcare needs of our seniors are not being met. At the core of this issue, healthcare provider fees are largely unregulated and overutilised, seemly placing profit over people.
According to  Bermuda’s 2017 National Health Accounts Report , Bermuda’s per capita health expenditure stands at $11,362, out-ranking all other OECD countries.
As Bermuda’s working population declines through retirement and job losses and total health system costs continues to rise, greater healthcare financial contributions are required from the current and retired workforce. This is having negative impact on both workers and pensioners as their purchasing power is eroded by healthcare inflation.
Many senior citizens are finding it extremely challenging to cope as a large portion of their pensions are earmarked to pay for prescription drugs, diagnostic tests and other associated healthcare costs. This financial burden depletes their limited disposable income leaving seniors with limited resources for other basic necessities.
Investigations continue to reveal that many Bermudians are electing to go without healthcare insurance coverage because it is simply unaffordable.
Further exacerbating this precarious problem, there is an increasing number of employers who are offering workers vendor contracts in order to avoid having to pay benefits especially the mandatory health insurance premiums.
The BTUC is advocating for a sustainable and improved healthcare system and requests that all stakeholders make a concerted effort to ensure there is universal healthcare coverage in Bermuda. We call on all stakeholders to work together to ensure that:
• all residents have access to basic health insurance coverage;
• healthcare coverage contributions are affordable; and
• all residents have access to healthcare services
We need a healthcare system that is people-centric rather than profit-driven. Universal health coverage should be the aim and affordable health care should be viewed as a human right and not a commodity.
Further, it is recognised that individuals must commit to healthier lives. The Government must commit to mapping out a clear strategy with regulations that meets Bermuda’s health care needs. Healthcare providers must become more efficient and cost-effective. Failure to act will put more lives at risk and will keep many residents locked-out of accessible and affordable healthcare.