Chief Secretary also denies changes to health benefits

| 29/03/2009

(CNS): Echoing comments made by the leader of government business at last week’s media briefing, Chief Secretary George McCarthy has also told civil servants that nothing has been decided at this time to change either the coverage or the contributions paid to government’s health insurance provider, CINICO, on behalf of civil servants. He said an internal review of the escalating costs of healthcare and alternative courses of action was recently undertaken by a range of stakeholders.

“But this is not unusual,” McCarthy added. “Government routinely examines costs and revenues. However, no decisions have been made, nor have any firm alternatives been presented to Cabinet for their consideration.”

He said that if in the future changes are deemed to be necessary to civil servants’ health care coverage, broad consultations would take place and employees’ input would be sought before making any final recommendations to Cabinet.

His statement and that made by LoGB Kurt Tibbetts came in the wake of comments by the leader of the Civil Service Association James Watler, who has reportedly said any changes would be unacceptable to the members.   

“When we came on with the civil service, it was with the understanding that the medical care was free, with a portion of dental and a portion of optical. Now they have put a cap on it, but no one has given them permission. We contest this, we say it’s illegal. They are trying to cut benefits and we said to them you can’t,” Watler told Net News last week.

However, the subject of escalating health care costsand who will pay for it is becoming a hot topic and Minister Alden McLaughlin has already said that even if existing public servants retain their benefits it is unlikely to remain the case for new recruits in the future.

The government is currently spending some CI$64 million per year to pay health cover for civil servants, pensioners, veterans and indigents.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ok, Goverment are speading over 60 million a year on the Hospital and heath care for governemtn employees. This is a hell of a lot.

    As an ex Civil Servant i do not think that hey should have to pay for health care. Now how do we cut this 60+ plus million? "EASY!!!"

    They say there is 3800 Gov employees spending over $60 million a year on health care. well this would equate to aprox $16,000 per anum per individual (WOW).

    Now we know that dependants also get free health. S0 lets say each employee has a family of 3 (average). This would then break down to 11,400 persons, which now costs the Gov $5,000 per person per annum ( this is still a lot).

    So to fix the problem, why does Govnement go to one of our health carriers on the island and get a quote to insure it’s employees.

    I will not mention the carrier our company is with at this time but we pay for full coverage (this includes overseas) $190 per month, with a total of 60 employees. this would equate to $$2,280.00 per person per annum.

    Now Giovenemt insure all it’s staff with this company, 11,400 persons @ 2,280 per annum. this equals a total of $26 million a year for premiums.

    The saving Governent made just of this one item is "HUGE" Approx $34 million a year.

    "SHOOT" maybe we should stop hiring all these consultants from overseas to save us money and just read these articles.


    ps. Watch some of these candiates use this idea in their up coming speaches now.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to know the facts before you post, the cost for insuring the 3,800 civil servants is only $29 million. The 60+ refferred to include pensioners, indigents, seamen and veterans.

      You may get a quote of $190.00 per month to insure your people, however, insurance rates is largely based on risks and demographics, I can tell you that based on the claim experience of the current insurer for the last 5yrs, no insurer is going to insure all Government staff and their dependents to the level now afforded to them for $190.00 per month.

      Insurance companies are in business to make money and even if they offer your an attractive bait of $190.00 per month to lure you there, it will be a quick switch once the claims start coming in and you’ll be back to square 1. Do you research people and stop spreading misinformation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    At last the Chief Secretary who is supposed to be head of the civil service, speaks up. But what does he say – nothing has been decided.  Then is it a fact that he is willing to try to force civil servants to make a payment to cover the benefits that their employment agreement covers.   Thank God that Alden understands the significance of the employment agreement – you cannot do this to existing staff unless they agree – and that is out of question. What didnt the Head of the Service say that?

    I agree with Mr. Walter the ‘cap’ is illegal, what does our Head have to say about that?

    The Chief Secretary’s lack of a strong defence of the civil service benefit adds to the speculation that they are now considering a proposal to beef up pensions to retired persons who were hired when they were ‘expats’ and only got a small pension.  Also to add to CINICO burden and to taxpayers by pensioning retired expats who did not get any pension at all.  Somebody better speak up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please stop…This is simply a way to blame the civil servants for the deficit….WE are not as stupid as we used to be…How many civil servants have been hired since 05…especially in Education…and Tourism to a degree….How many folks have walked away with big FAT severance pay from health ,roads, Etc., just because you didn’t like them….Must be, otherwise you would have fired them. PLEASE don’t make the civil servants pay for your squandering ways….Heroes Day, Washington Junkets, forty miles of  road….etc… On your knees, boys and pray that your kids and grandkids forgive you. Shame on you for trying to make the civil service pay for your larceny. PLease leave with some dignity, and bless you , we know you tried.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sure if you look at the numbers, you’ll see that the $250+ million the Government pays on staff costs every year is more than 10 times the cost of the road.

      it is common sense that when one looks to cut costs, you look into the areas you are incurring the most cost. The road is capital, not operating, my tax payer money is paying you people and many of you won’t even asmuch as answer the phones when I call, yet you want free health care, free pensions (at a higher rate than me mind you) and fat cat paychecks.

      Where is the Portfolio of Finance in all of this? Where is the Financial Secretary in all of this? as usual, he is somewhere in there with the rest of his bunch ducking and doing nothing, say what you will about Mr. McCarthy, but he brought leadership in the area of Government Finances.

      This financial secretary shows up to the LA and read the speeches his staff prepares for him and go through budgets which someone else prepares and he is clueless about. If you ever go the LA and see him during these finance committee, he always has 1 or 2 guys beside him and if someone ask why is the ink on the pages black, he has to turn and ask them. He should be the one leading the charge on the many costs in government and how to address them, not the politicians or Mr. McCarthy, why are we not demanding that he take care of the finances of this Government by making the hard decisions, getting the accounts done and helping us through these difficult times, is it because he’s a quiet nice guy? And you wonder why the civil service have the attitudes they have, its the shining examples that are at the top.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why is it that as usual the first to comment is the ignorant, and uneducated? Does anyone even stop to check the facts before responding with the first dumb idea that crosses their mind?

        Firstly, the figure mentioned in the article covered current civil servants, retired civil servants (pensioners), veterans, and indigents. What percentage or that figure relates to civil servants? Secondly, as a retired civil servant myself, I chose to work for Government because of the health benefits as health insurance was not something that was available in those days. So while many of my peers took better paying jobs in the private sector it is clear that they were not thinking long term.
        Now am I to believe that after you dumb asses elected an uneducated and ignorant Government you want to take away the only benefit I have left to pay for your roads and your monumental buildings to your politicians? Get a life.
        I stay at home. I barely use the roads. My kids and grandkids were educated without the big buildings and they are doing quite well. My advice to all of you haters is to go and pay taxes or shut the hell up.
        Many of you complain about Government spending but ask you to pay a cent to the Government and you shudder. You come back from Miami with 12 suitcases and find it hard to pay Customs. You don’t even want to pay your garbage fees, and some of you still hire people without paying for a work permit.
        When considering the above, many of you are also a strain on the government budget. My advice is to go and complain to the merchants as they are the ones you give your money to…not the Government.
        Either way, I will still be laughing at many of you on May 21 after you re-elect these idiots.      
  4. Anonymous says:

    It can’t go on like this. It’s financially unsustainable. But the only non combative way to do it is the way suggested by Minister McLaughlin and that should have happened from years ago when it was first suggested.