Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Free health care folly

Published:Tuesday | January 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:
Rachel Johnson of the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday (January 11, 2015), wrote a description of the current state of health care in England, which sounded like what is currently happening in Jamaica.

One, area common in both nations experience is congestion. She wrote: " It seems obvious. When service and supply is free, demand is unlimited, and the only check on demand is congestion - the famous British queue. But this isn't enough. We need even more checks on demand".

Her recommendations for "more checks on demand" was that of charging a £5 fee. "Everyone except the homeless should pay something for tipping up and expecting world-class treatment, bloods, scans, meds, the works."

In Jamaica, the current state of our public health care requires "more check on demand," by greater participatory support of those who benefit from its services. A regular visit to a private doctor could cost between $2,500 and $4,000. Currently, at the clinics and outpatients unit at the hospitals, there is no fee charged. With the introduction of the National Health Fund user card as the basic access to these services, the Government should introduce a service fee of at least $250 per patient. Those on PATH, or other approved social indicators that prevents paying, would be exempt.

At the DrugServ Pharmacies, an average wait of three hours is required before prescriptions are filled and delivered. To reduce congestion, the Ministry of Health should introduce a customer-service fee of $200 to encourage a "drop-off and pickup" service. This would help in promoting a more productive society, as prescriptions are left and the bearers are able to return to work or complete other businesses during the waiting period. For those who choose to wait, a minimal fee of $100 per prescription should be charged.

The same principle of a basic fee of $100 should be charged for all other services offered to the public.

The collected funds would then be used at the locally based institutions to help in acquiring the basic things needed in making and maintaining quality health care accessible to all. I believe it is our moral duty as citizens to enable our health-care facilities to fulfil their goals for the greater good, by such small contributions. After all, "one- one cocoa full basket".

Dudley C. McLean