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NHI Bahamas  »  Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is NHI Bahamas?

NHI Bahamas is a new national health insurance programme for The Bahamas introduced by the Government. NHI Bahamas will make our health care system more modern, affordable and accessible. The new programme ensures that all legal Bahamian residents – no matter your income, age, island of residence or current health status – can receive health care at no cost at point of service. Cost for health care is paid for in full or in part, by Government.

NHI Bahamas will be rolled out in phases:


In the first phase of coverage (Primary Care), Bahamians receive a number of health services at no cost at point of care. The full list of benefits can be found here.

Why does the country need National Health Insurance?

Improving the health care system will lead to a more modern and prosperous Bahamas. We must improve access and affordability of quality health care for our people. Currently, approximately 70% of Bahamians do not have health insurance, meaning they may have to pay for health services out of their own pockets. An average Bahamian household spends approximately $2,300 per year on health care, which is something many people cannot afford. Not being able to afford health care can result in illness and even death. Severe illness can be prevented often with a simple visit to the doctor, health education, and preventive activities. Modernizing our current health care system is essential to improving the health of our population.

Do I have to pay for NHI Bahamas?

In the first phase of NHI Bahamas, all Primary Care services outlined in the benefits package here are provided to you at no out of pocket cost at the time you access the services.

Is NHI Bahamas available to everyone?

Yes, NHI Bahamas is available to all legal residents of The Bahamas.

How do I register for NHI Bahamas?

The NIB is responsible for registering all legal Bahamian residents. If you don’t have a NIB Smart Card, please contact NIB for registration locations at 225-5642. If you have an NIB Smart Card you are already registered for NHI Bahamas and prepared for enrolment. Registering will not affect those who already have private health insurance.

How do I enrol in NHI Bahamas?

Once you register and have an NIB Smart Card, you are eligible to enrol in NHI Bahamas. To enrol, you must choose your Primary Care doctor (from the public or private sector) and eventually, your insurance company.

Under NHI Bahamas, do I have to give up my private health insurance?

No, you do not have to give up your private insurance coverage if you do not want to. Primary Care services, which are covered in the first phase, are covered by NHI Bahamas and any additional health care services you pay for is a top-up to that coverage.

What is covered under NHI Bahamas?

The initial phase of NHI Bahamas covers Primary Care services. This includes, but is not limited to, visits to your doctor (Primary Care Provider), disease prevention, health screening, and labs.

The full list of Primary Care services covered under the initial phase of NHI Bahamas can be found here.

What is Primary Care?

Primary Care is best described as the wide variety of health services provided to you by a family doctor or other Primary Care physician (examples also include Pediatricians, Internists, General Practitioners, and Obstetricians for prenatal services). Your Primary Care physician guides you through the health care system by referring you to specialists, maintaining relationships with nurses, labs, and other health care stakeholders. Primary Care includes disease prevention and health promotion as well as early diagnosis and treatment of common diseases.

How is the health care system being improved?

Health System Strengthening activities are ongoing and will continue to be the backbone for delivering better health system performance in the future. Change will not happen overnight and the transformation takes considerable financial and human resource efforts to achieve results. Some notable improvements that are happening are:

  • Extended clinic hours
  • Opening additional clinics
  • Maintenance and repairs to public clinics on all islands
  • Opening of the Abaco and Exuma mini-hospitals
  • Opening of the child-adolescent facility on the campus of Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre to improve long-term care for children
  • Hospital improvements at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and The Rand Memorial Hospital
  • Opening of the community-based mental health facility
  • Additional equipment available throughout public clinics on all islands
  • All public and private providers are held to the same certification standards
  • New contracts with long-term care/residential facilities in Nassau to accommodate more persons who should be cared for in a more appropriate setting
  • Building enhancements at four Nassau clinics to allow for decentralization of ambulances and extended hours
  • Fostering Private Public Partnerships
  • Enhancing the Governance and Stewardship function of the Ministry of Health
Who is in charge of NHI Bahamas?

A National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has been established to oversee implementation of NHI Bahamas for the Government. The Insurance Commission of The Bahamas (ICB) is involved with licensing and regulating insurance companies in coordination with NHIA. The Ministry of Health and its councils and boards will continue to provide stewardship for the Bahamian health care system as a whole and oversee the licensing of health providers.

How is NHI Bahamas funded/who pays?

Initially all funding comes from the Government’s consolidated fund financed by general revenues. This means the Government will pay for health services for all enrolled persons using Government revenue collected through the existing taxation structure. No additional tax has been imposed to pay for NHI Bahamas during the initial phases.

Is there a tax for NHI Bahamas?

Currently, no additional tax has been imposed for the initial phases of NHI Bahamas.

Will there ever be a tax for NHI Bahamas?

It is anticipated that a contribution will be needed in the future. Research shows that at least 60% of Bahamians would support a payroll deduction similar to NIB contributions to help pay for NHI Bahamas.

How much will NHI Bahamas cost the Government?

The budget for NHI Bahamas for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is $36 million.

Why is the Government starting with Primary Care coverage?

Bahamians greatly benefit from having access at no cost to a Primary Care doctor, who will take responsibility for your care needs. Effective primary health care can address medical needs early and prevent more serious conditions from developing. According to the World Health Organization, Universal Health Care, which is based on primary health care, provides a platform for the integrated delivery of health services in addition to being one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options.

Does NHI Bahamas cover expensive treatments for diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes?

Only treatments for diseases that can be delivered through Primary Care are covered. There will be a fund for select catastrophic coverage available to deliver some of the more expensive treatments for certain cancers, cardiovascular conditions, etc. There is an expert group of medical professionals who are formulating evidence-based guidelines that will direct how those funds will be used to deliver care to the population that most needs it.

How is the health care system going to handle the increased demand for health services when all legal Bahamian residents have access to care?

To ensure the health care system in our country is prepared for NHI Bahamas, the Government has been investing in initiatives that aim to strengthen and modernize existing infrastructure and services, such as extending clinic hours and opening more clinics throughout the country. These improvements will help accommodate the increased number of persons seeking medical care, especially once these services are covered free of cost to the patient at point of care.

Additionally, because with NHI Bahamas you can choose a doctor in the public sector or the private sector, a number of persons opt to be seen by a private health provider, creating availability.

Currently, the private health care sector is partnering with public health care providers and participate in NHI Bahamas in addition to the investment the Government of The Bahamas is making to improve the public health care system

How do I select my doctor? What doctors are part of NHI Bahamas?

Persons who enrol in NHI Bahamas can choose any doctor that is registered and who has capacity to take on new patients. The full list of physicians can be found here.

Do I have to change doctors?

If your current doctor has registered as a provider under NHI Bahamas, you will not have to switch. If you wish to remain with your doctor, but they are not registered, you will either need supplemental insurance or you will need to pay out of pocket for care. Alternately, you can also switch to a doctor that is certified under NHI Bahamas. These choices are up to you.

Will wait times increase with more people seeking health services under NHI Bahamas?

It is not anticipated that wait times will increase but in fact it is anticipated, based on international evidence, that wait times will decrease with implementation of NHI Bahamas.

Will I be able to use my coverage for vision and dental care?

NHI Bahamas does not cover vision or dental care. You would need private insurance coverage for these services, or you would have to cover the cost yourself.

How will NHI Bahamas impact my maternity cost currently provided by NIB?

There is no impact. The NIB continues to manage maternity benefit in terms of cash subsidy. NHI Bahamas covers prenatal care services under the first phase of Primary Care services and eventually, NHI Bahamas will cover the birth.

What happens when I use my lifetime maximum allocation for health insurance coverage?

There is no lifetime limit for NHI Bahamas.

Does NHI Bahamas cover children, the elderly, people with disabilities and those with pre-existing health conditions?

Yes, all legal residents of The Bahamas are covered under NHI Bahamas. No one is excluded because of a pre-existing health condition, age or income.

Will NHI Bahamas protect me when traveling abroad and an emergency medical treatment is required?

No. Bahamians outside of the country are not covered. It is recommended that Bahamians travelling abroad purchase travel health insurance.

Will students studying abroad be able to use the NHI Bahamas coverage with hospitals abroad?

No. Bahamians outside of the country are not covered. It is recommended that a separate policy for students studying abroad be purchased.

Will COB/BTVI students be required to purchase their school’s insurance coverage or would NHI Bahamas replace that?

It is suggested that COB/BTVI students continue to purchase their school-mandated insurance products. If students are also eligible beneficiaries of NHI Bahamas, then they should enrol.

Do I need two separate cards for NHI Bahamas and NIB?

No, the NIB Smart Card is all you need to enrol and then access services. You do not need an additional card.

Once I have my NIB Smart Card can I go see my doctor for free?

Once you have your NIB Smart Card, you will then need to enrol in NHI Bahamas and select your Primary Care doctor before you can start accessing Primary Care services at no cost at point of service. The full enrolment process is outlined here.

What is the role of NHI Bahamas as part of Universal Health Coverage in The Bahamas?

The fundamental premise of NHI Bahamas is that it provides all legal residents health insurance coverage and therefore access to a defined health services package. Under NHI, no one is denied insurance coverage because they have a pre-existing condition, have reached old age or cannot afford to pay. Nor will anyone receive less care than they do today. NHI Bahamas guarantees for specified benefits, the ability to have one’s insurance coverage renewed regardless of diagnosis or amount of care required.

What is a capitation rate?

Capitation represents a payment to a health care provider on an annual per person basis, rather than a payment for the individual services provided each visit. A capitation rate ensures medical providers are compensated on a per patient basis as opposed to a per service basis.

Is there geographic zoning for patient enrolment?

No, patients are free to choose any provider of their choice, however, NHI will not cover the costs of transportation for patients to visit their providers.

Can a patient register for multiple Primary Care Providers? (for example a provider on the family island and another in New Providence)

A patient will only be allowed to select one Primary Care Provider. You can change your doctor once per year.

How many patients can be enrolled with a PHC physician?

The panel size of each PHC physician in a certified facility is determined based on his/her time commitment to that facility as well as other factors such as the support staff available in that facility.

Can a physician choose his/her patients?

No. Physicians are allowed to set their desired panel size (as long as it is less than the permitted number of patients). The patients will then choose their PHC physician. If a physician has a grievance with a patient, he/she may petition NHI to remove a patient from the empaneled list.