JIS News

Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has informed that over 1.8 million claims for prescriptions using the National Health Fund (NHF) card, were paid during the year.
“The total cost to patients for these prescriptions was $2.2 billion, of which the NHF paid $1.3 billion, 59 per cent of the beneficiaries’ cost. Hypertension accounted for 44 per cent and diabetes 26 per cent of claims subsidised,” Mr. Spencer pointed out.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, today (June 3).
He noted that over 80 per cent of persons using the NHFcard filled prescriptions for Diabetes and/or Hypertension, adding that the number of pharmacies providing NHF card services reached an all time high of 400 and the NHF continued to pay providers on time every week.
Ninety two per cent of persons accessed their NHF benefit at private pharmacies, showing that this sector was an important contributor to the effective delivery of pharmaceutical services to the country, Mr. Spencer argued.
In addition, 749,756 Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) prescriptions were filled during the year at over 300 JADEP provider pharmacies.
“Again, 92 per cent of persons accessed their benefits at private pharmacies. The NHF purchases JADEP drugs and provides these free of cost to beneficiaries through the JADEP provider pharmacies,” Mr. Spencer said.
At the end of March 2008, some 350,307 persons had been enrolled, that is, 172,540 persons for the NHF card, which is for persons of all ages, and 177,767 for the JADEP, which is for persons 60 years and older.
In order to maintain a consistent and reliable supply of these drugs for its beneficiaries, the NHF commenced direct purchasing and distribution of JADEP items with the private sector in February 2007.
The NHF has achieved these objectives and, in addition, realised savings of 16.8 per cent on the cost of purchases and seen significant improvement in its management of JADEP inventories at the over 300 provider pharmacies.
Meanwhile, during the financial year, 15 projects were approved under the Institutional Benefits Programme at a total $274.73 million.
Projects include research, training, construction and infrastructure and equipment for health facilities. A total of 34 projects costing $502.07 million were completed during the 2007/2008 financial year.
“The 2008/2009 budget presented has reversed the decline in revenue faced by the NHF for the past three years, with the provision of increased revenue from the additional tax on tobacco products,” Mr. Spencer stated.
He added that the NHF has developed a software application, NHFCoB, to facilitate the automatic co-ordination of benefits between the NHF card and other health insurance plans – private and public.
“NHFCoB secures the maximum benefit for the beneficiary by automatically assigning benefits from the NHFcard and other insurance plans with any card. Life of Jamaica has entered into a contract with the NHF and commenced use of this feature,” he informed.
The NHF has also developed another computer-based application, NHFNHRs, to provide a health record service for all residents.
It aims to provide persons with free access to a database that will store basic critical health information which can be made available to health and emergency care professionals.
“These will be important developments as we seek to create an effective referral system across all three levels of the health system, achieve real time access to patient information and to improve our monitoring of health service delivery islandwide,” Mr. Spencer explained.

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