Rodgers: Its not an insurance firm
SECRETARY to Prime Minister Dr Jimmy Rodgers said that Mustard Seed is not a health insurance but a comprehensive health care support for Members of Parliament and Public Servants.
Dr. Rodgers made this clarification following allegations that Mustard Seed policies were becoming scam, resulting in thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills locally.
He said insurance is not an easy thing to think about and health insurance is even more difficult.
“The first thing that needs to be made clear is Mustard Seed is not a health insurance company. (Rather) it is a scheme which provides comprehensive health care support for MPs and Public servant.
“So, it is not an insurance firm,” he said.
Rodgers said in Solomon Islands there are only two insurance companies..
He said in a normal health insurance, “we individual buy individual policy where it says you pay this amount and we cover this based on the premium you are given depending on the level of risk.
“If you are healthy and under 50 you will have an insurance policy where you pay the premium and you have some benefit. As long you have one existing disease let alone 2 or 3 many insurances firm will not cover it because it’s a liability for them.
“If they cover your premium, it might go higher and you have to pay it yourself and that’s how health insurance works and not Mustard Seed.
“So, the Mustard Seed in this one is that the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission is responsible for looking after the welfare of Parliament Members sort an insurance arrangement to look after health care of MPs and their families because it is very expensive.
Under this arrangement MPs can receive domestic care and oversea referrals, Dr. Rodgers said.
On domestic the service would be provided for them and how to pay for them while on overseas referral it deals with the process and who will pay for it.
No insurance companies in Solomon would like to provide it because there is a lot of liability for them.
So, PEC discussed with Mustard Seed and they offer proposal for them that says if there is policy, they can cover domestic services which means they can see local private doctors and clinics and they go and see Mustard Seed to refund them.
For overseas they set up a mechanism for some doctors so any referral cases their doctor will access them. The referral cases are controlled by them whether in Australia, New Zealand or Philippines.
He said there was an agreement on Policy signed between PEC and Mustard Seed to look after the 50 MPs and their partners with children up to 18 years. And for that the policy was 30 thousand for six people.
So initially what they did was MP can go to any doctor here but then there was a change made by Mustard Seed but that now has been ratified.
Dr Rodgers did not say anything about some $9 million allegedly paid out by Mustard Seed International last year to cover medical costs incurred by policyholders. Some local doctors have complained about mounting bills incurred by MPs, which remained unpaid.
By Charles Kadamana
Solomon Star, Honiara