Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
THE MINISTRY of Labour and Social Security will be implementing the electronic swipe cards for the NI Gold, a health plan for pensioners, come April 1.
The electronic swipe cards should have been introduced late last year, but due to low registration, the ministry was forced to extend the deadline to introduce the cards.
But according to Denzil Thorpe, director of national insurance, there will be no extension after March 31.
"We cannot have any further extension of the deadline to introduce the cards," Mr. Thorpe said. "Blue Cross cannot operate two systems."
REGISTRATION OF PENSIONERS STILL OUTSTANDING
He explained that only 45,000 pensioners have signed up for the card with another 25,000 still
outstanding. Mr. Thorpe pointed out that the introduction of the paper cards was a temporary measure, but that the electronic swipe cards were much more efficient.
He said pensioners who have not signed up for the card can still do so by visiting the nearest Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) with their photo identification and proof that they are pensioners. This can be either their pension order book or temporary NI Gold card and their Tax Registration Number (TRN), if they have any.
Mr. Thorpe said that pensioners who had signed up for the electronic cards last year are now able to collect them from electoral offices islandwide.
The cards can be used at any Blue Cross provider. Pensioners can also have their prescriptions filled at any non-participating pharmacy by paying for the drugs and then claiming reimbursement from Blue Cross.
NI Gold is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with Blue Cross of Jamaica. The programme came into effect in December 2003, and is funded by the ministry at a cost of $11 million.
With the NI Gold, pensioners are able to receive the following benefits:
Hospital room and board per night $800
Hospital miscellaneous per disability $6,000
Hospital outpatient per disability $2,000
Surgeon's fee per procedure $30,000
Assistant surgeon's fee per procedure $12,000
Anaesthetist's Fee $12,000
Doctor's visit $500
Consultation (referral only) $1,000
Dental and optical per year $2,000
Prescription Drugs per year $4,000