Health insurance providers who do not currently offer coverage for mental health challenges are being urged to do so as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on residents and is expected to result in an increase in depression and anxiety.
In a panel discussion on Tuesday which examined The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Barbados, looking at the health, economic and social impact, officials raised concern that as some mental health issues come to the forefront as a result of the pandemic, they may not be covered by insurance providers. While some insurance companies in Barbados currently offer various levels of mental health coverage, others do not.
The matter was raised during the Barbados Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (BARAIFA) webinar that heard from speakers, President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) Dr Lynda Williams, social analyst Elbert Ellis and business management specialist Peter Blackman.
Williams said “Having had health insurance prior to the COVID-19 pandemic helped quite a few people. If they have care needs that needed to go on during the pandemic, they were able to rely on having that insurance.
“What my concern is going forward though is that if we start to have a lot people who are suffering from anxiety and depression, whether underwriters would cover that, if they will include that, because it is going to be a pandemic of its own. I think it is very important that generalised anxiety and depression be covered.”
Also insisting on a new national model for the funding of healthcare to help in this regard, Williams said “I don’t think we can just simply rely on the way things were in the past. We have to look in terms of whether or not we contribute to a national type of public insurance scheme and how that would impact the private insurance.”