Campbell: Protect the vulnerable from increase in health fees
Dr Dayton Campbell, opposition spokesperson on health, believes that a tiered fee system needs to be put in place to ensure that there is universal access to healthcare facilities.
Campbell was responding to the announcement from the health ministry that persons with health insurance, non-residents, and private patients will pay more to access services at public health facilities starting on August 1.
The cost of registration when visiting a medical facility will move from $1,500 to $3,000, and it will cost $7,500, up from $3,500, to visit speciality clinics.
Morgue services will move from $1,000 per day to $2,000 per day, and patients in an intensive care unit will have to pay $10,600 per day, up from $5,000.
There is also an increase in the fees for food handlers permits, up from $500 to $1,000.
The opposition spokesperson said that it was critical that any policy that was put in place did not result in the poor being at a disadvantage.
"One, you want to ensure that there is universal access, and two, not everyone has the same ability to afford healthcare, therefore, you have to put a system in place so that those who can least afford it are not turned away based on financial resources, so there needs to be a tiered system in place," he told The Gleaner.
"The policy should be amended in a way to ensure that you protect the most vulnerable in society, and those who can pay should pay. Just moving the policy where a fee is implemented for everyone is not desirable. You also need to increase your insured population so that those persons can have access," Campbell added.
The health ministry says that the full schedule of increases is contained in the National Health Services (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2016, which can be accessed through the Government Printing Office, its four regional health authorities, or any local public hospital.