Labour Minister Urges Jamaicans to Register for NHF Benefits


Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley, has appealed to Jamaicans to seize the opportunities offered by the National Health Fund (NHF) and get registered for the programme. The Minister made the appeal while making his contribution to the debate on the National Health Fund Act (2003) on Tuesday, October 28 in the House of Representatives.
He pointed out that more than 500,000 persons in Jamaica suffered from one or more of the 14 chronic diseases that the NHF covered. The conditions covered are arthritis, breast cancer, glaucoma, diabetes, rheumatic fever, heart disease, depression, psychosis, epilepsy, prostate cancer, hypertension, high cholesterol, vascular disease and asthma.
“My serious concern is why it is that the people of Jamaica who suffer from these conditions are not getting up and registering for the programme. Why is it? Here is a benefit for you to purchase medications for your conditions and you have not gone to be registered. Take the time to go and register so that the cost of your drugs will be lowered,” he appealed.
Up to last month, Minister Dalley said, only 35,000 Jamaicans have applied for benefits with membership cards for 23,000 of them already processed and sent to registration centres across the island for distribution.
Turning to the financing of the Fund, the Minister said it was part funded through National Insurance Scheme (NIS) contributions, which was increased by 2.5 per cent on October 1. He said it was projected that $442 million should come to the Fund from this measure, while an additional $491 million is expected for 2004/05.
“In 2005/06 Budget year, we project that $946 million will be transferred to the Fund based on this new arrangement of collection. In 2006/07, $979 million will go to the Fund via the workers of Jamaica and the employers of Jamaica, who will contribute under the higher wage ceiling of the NIS,” he informed, noting that for 2007/08, it is projected that over $1billion would go to the NHF.
Minister Junor, in closing the Debate, also appealed to pharmacies to become a part of the programme. “We do recognize that we need the co-operation of pharmacies and we want to encourage them. Please, if you want to test the system try it,” he urged.
Meanwhile, the NHF Act (2003) was passed unopposed in the House.

JIS Social