By anguillian November 14, 2014 10:48



Mr Thomas Astaphan Queen's Counsel

Mr Thomas Astaphan Queen’s Counsel

The official launch of the National Health Insurance system in Anguilla on Monday, November 3, has been severely criticised by Attorney-at-Law, and former Chairman of the Anguilla Social Security Board, Mr Thomas Astaphan, QC.
Speaking on his Saturday morning programme Phantom Show on Kool FM Radio 103.3, on November 8, the outspoken lawyer commented on whOat he called “the National Health Insurance thing that they launched”. He went on: “I can’t understand it, and I will tell you why. When I was the Chairman of the Social Security Board, we were discussing this: everyone in Anguilla who works – whether you are self-employed or you are employed – you are compelled by law to pay a contribution every month to Social Security. So I have a vested interest in it as a contributor – both on my part and for my workers.
“Nobody gets nothing back from Social Security. If you are on sick leave, they give you a pittance of what you earn. You don’t get your full money back; you get a little bit of money. It is really a waste of time. I am going to be honest. If you are on maternity leave, it is the same thing; so you don’t get nothing back from all those millions you put in over a lifetime. So,, while I was there, it was suggested that we increase the benefits to the people of Anguilla: alleviate the burdens that the contributors in Anguilla face by increasing the benefits to them. One of the benefits I suggested was that the contributors of Anguilla get health coverage from Social Security…

“Now, naturally, you have to analyse it and that’s not my area of expertise, but I know when Social Security has hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, – paying out a little bit and getting a lot every month, – there was room for the people to benefit from their contributions when they were in a position of need with regards to their health. It went to the Actuary and the Actuary supported it. I had suggested that if necessary, the contribution of the employer should be increased to 7 percent from 5 so that you don’t have to increase the employee’s [contribution] but if you have to increase the employee’s [contribution]; increase it to 6. Nobody in Anguilla would grumble with instead of paying 5 they pay 6 and get health coverage.”

Mr Astaphan said that his idea was accepted at that time. He recalled that the former Government “had formed a national ‘something or the other’ and appointed a board, and that was seen as an unnecessary cumbersome bureaucracy which would be duplicating what already existed.”

He continued: “This is not the idea that was proposed. I asked my very good friend, Alkins, about it, and he told me that the Actuary had changed his position and thought this was the way to go. But I am going to tell them, I don’t agree with them because number one there is no need for a new bureaucracy. My proposal was that the current Social Security system, that is in place, was adequate to provide the needs for the health benefit and, if it were necessary, to bring in medical insurance experts to train [staff].”

Mr Astaphan further stated: “Health insurance would have been handled adequately by the current Social Security bureaucracy. It is already in place. They [the staff] have a wealth of experience and are very good at what they do. There is no need for a new building, a new group of people, a new bureaucracy. Just what benefits are they going to pay: under 5 years old and over 65 years old? So what happens to the rest of the people? I think it is a joke – literally a joke. That’s my view and I am going to speak my mind about it; and I think it is a wrong thing to do.

“I see they rented a building over there by National Bank with a big National Health Insurance sign on it. They need to tell us the cost of that, and why the cost had to be incurred. Social Security has offices, it has staff already. No need to duplicate it. I am going to talk more about that. I will get more information… and I think the people of Anguilla need to know. I don’t think that is the right thing.”

By anguillian November 14, 2014 10:48


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