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Government engages PAHO, WHO for national health insurance scheme

Published:Wednesday | February 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the Government has engaged a team from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to assist in the development of a national health insurance scheme.

Tufton made the disclosure at the opening of the Partners Interventional Centre of Jamaica (PICJ) Limited recently at Medical Associates Hospital in St Andrew.

"Last year, we brought in a team from PAHO/WHO to help us to look at healthcare financing. We have consultants that, in another two to three months, will present a proposal, which we anticipate will move the country towards a national health insurance scheme," Tufton said.

He said that the completed document will be examined and a determination made as to its implementation.

Pointing out that very few Jamaicans have health insurance, the minister said that with increasing health risks, it was essential that all citizens have access to quality services.

"Only about 20 per cent (of persons) are insured. Of that 20, about 10 per cent are government employees and eight per cent are in the private sector," he informed.

Tufton said the national health insurance scheme aims to provide coverage for all, and that it was in line with Government's policy to ensure that all Jamaicans, particularly the vulnerable, have the most basic health insurance coverage.

He further noted that a national health insurance scheme will ensure that the health sector has an effective model in place that enables persons to make contributions over time. This, he said, will ensure that the system has sufficient resources to respond to the health needs of citizens.

"We don't want to charge people when they reach the point of access; rather, long before you require the doctor, we are saying that persons can make a contribution... in anticipation that, one day, you will need this service. That is why we are working on a national health insurance scheme," Tufton said.

He encouraged Jamaicans to make provision for their healthcare before their health becomes critical.

The National Health Fund is overseeing the development of the national health insurance scheme.