Jamaicans Save $4.14 Billion Through no User Fee Policy


Since the Government implemented the no user fee policy at public health facilities two years ago, thousands of Jamaicans who use the public health system for selected services have saved $4.14 billion.
This was disclosed by Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, who was delivering the opening presentation of the Social Policy section of the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on September 21.
Noting that a significant barrier to access health care is the cost of health services, Mr. Spencer argued that the administration’s decision to abolish fees has helped many persons who are facing financial hardships to balance their budget and their lives.
“Given the environment of declining budgets, the abolition of user fees is giving the people of Jamaica a fighting chance, both in terms of their ability to access health care as well as to avoid the catastrophe of what is called the ‘medical poverty trap phenomenon’,” he pointed out.
The abolition of user fees, he said, has resulted in more persons using the primary health care system with health centre visits increasing in the first year by 16.3 per cent and 7.8 per cent in the second year. Accident and Emergency visits however, declined marginally by 0.4 per cent in the second year after a 14 per cent increase in the first year of policy implementation.
“Patient visits to our pharmacies increased by about 10 per cent in the first year of the policy to 15 per cent in the second year. Laboratory tests increased 14.7 per cent in year one of the policy and 18.3 per cent in year two of implementation,” the Minister said.
Consequently, patients who registered for Admissions saved 476.4 million, those who had surgeries saved $649.5 million, while visits to health centres saved patients $666.1 million.
“Outpatient and Accident and Emergency patients saved $793.7 million, and those who accessed pharmaceuticals and medical supplies at our pharmacy windows saved $1.47 billion,” Mr. Spencer further revealed.
The no user fee policy came into effect on April 1, 2008, and is applicable at all public health facilities islandwide, except the University Hospital of the West Indies.

JIS Social