Implementing the National Health Insurance Plan — Everton Anderson – Jamaica Observer

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Everton Anderson, CEO of the National Health Fund, said a national health insurance scheme could offer the best option for extending benefits and improving health insurance coverage among the population.

Everton Anderson, CEO of the National Health Fund (NHF), calls for a re-filing and implementation of the National Health Insurance Plan, in the context of the identified gap in health insurance coverage and the need to alleviate the pain and suffering of the elderly. .

The most recent release of the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ), a production of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin), denounced what they describe as “the persistently low rates of coverage by the ‘Health Insurance “.

The report, which analyzed research carried out in 2018, was published in March 2022.

The ESSJ showed that low registration in social welfare institutions such as the National Health Fund and the Jamaica Drug Program for the Elderly “suggests a significant gap in individuals’ ability to buffer immediate demands for healthcare coverage.

The ESSJ warned: “The percentages should also be considered in light of the prevalence of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in the population, particularly among the elderly, as well as the prevalence of other diseases covered by these programs. . Health-seeking behaviors, including disease screening, also require intervention.

Anderson, in a response to Jamaica Observer, noted that the elderly receive significant support under the NHF, particularly through the JADEP (Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Program), but noted, “The NHF was formed from decades of discussions around a national health insurance plan. It may be time for Jamaica to advance discussions on a National Health Insurance Plan, which may offer the best option for expanding benefits and improving health insurance coverage among the population.

Compulsory scheme

The national health plan was introduced in May 2019 when the Jamaican government tabled a green paper proposing a compulsory national health insurance scheme that would provide equal benefits to contributors regardless of income.

It was proposed that funding for the initiative would come from a combination of employee contributions or premiums and industry taxes.

About 80% of the population is uninsured. It is not known how many are underinsured. Many, seeking to finance health care out of pocket, engage in waiting months for diagnostic tests or surgeries, or wait hours to receive a general observation.

Health Minister Christopher Tufton tabled the National Health Insurance Plan in 2019.

In the Green Paper on a National Health Plan, the Department of Health and Welfare proposed that taxes on sugary products and cannabis could raise billions to supplement health care costs.

The paper proposed a vehicle tax, saying there was a high public cost borne by the state in dealing with traffic accidents and respiratory illnesses.

The document also proposed an excise tax focused on cancer caused by tobacco and alcohol and a gaming and lottery tax supporting mental illness and addiction programs.

Preventive care

The services underwritten by the national health insurance scheme would be basic, although encompassing preventive care, diagnostic services and treatment. Private health insurance could work as a “complement” to this, the health ministry pointed out.

The green paper also proposed that the implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) would help with implementation.

In the meantime, contributions would vary by population. A lump sum contribution would be paid by approximately 192,300 adults in the informal sector (including those over 65). In addition, from around 212,600 workers in the formal sector, a flat rate would be paid. Both formal and informal contributors would pay an additional monthly contribution for dependents.

the Business Observer requested an update on the implementation of the plan from the Department of Health and Wellness. One was promised. A ministry source said the advent of COVID-19 has affected the implementation of the plan.

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