Jamaica govt to stop footing full healthcare bill for insured patients

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday January 12, 2016 – Health Minister Horace Dalley has announced that health insurance companies will be required to pay for services delivered to their clients at public health facilities.

He says while Government has been underwriting the entire cost of health care since 2007 when user fees were abolished at hospitals and health centres, insurance providers have been saving millions of dollars in payouts.

“We are subsidizing the insurance companies. Well that [has to stop]. When you come to the health facility, you are going to be asked, ‘do you have a health card?’ If you have health insurance . . . the health insurance company will have to pay their portion,” Dalley told Jamaicans.

But he was quick to add that insured patients would not be asked to pull their pockets.

“We are not going to take your portion; we are going to take the insurance company’s portion to help the facility,” the minister explained.

“I am sure that no Jamaican will be against that . . . If Jamaicans know that they can get good service, they will pay for the service . . .  But we are going to start first with the insurance companies.”

He made the announcement at the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the upgrading of the Alexandria Community Hospital in St. Ann, Jamaica’s largest parish.

horace dalley

Minister of Health Horace Dalley addressing the MOU signing ceremony.

The MOU, which was signed with the Mind Body and Soul (MBS) Health Ministry and the Patel Foundation for Global Initiatives, is for the phase one upgrading of the hospital, which will include the establishment of state-of-the-art dental and pharmacy facilities at a cost of US$250,000.

Maternal and diagnostic services will be improved under phase two of the project.

Dalley said several local private sector companies have come forward to establish similar partnerships for the improvement of health services.

“This is what you call partnership,” he said. “We have had many who have come on board and say ‘We want to help, we want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem and the complaints’. I am happy to note that over 10 private sector companies have already sent to me to say, ‘We will be coming on board with you. We want to take one of these operating theatres and we will fix it up and we will run it for you for the next two years’.”

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