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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, tabled the National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) Green Paper in the House of Representatives on May 7.
  • The document is expected to lead to a final proposal aimed at providing appropriate levels of access, coverage, and financial protection to the population.
  • Minister Tufton said that the Green Paper will be discussed with critical stakeholders over the next six months, and the plan refined and finalised for phased implementation in the next financial year.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, tabled the National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) Green Paper in the House of Representatives on May 7.

The document is expected to lead to a final proposal aimed at providing appropriate levels of access, coverage, and financial protection to the population.

Minister Tufton said that the Green Paper will be discussed with critical stakeholders over the next six months, and the plan refined and finalised for phased implementation in the next financial year.

He told the House that a team headed by Dr. Wesley Hughes will lead a process of public consultation on the Green Paper.

In outlining the need for the plan, Minister Tufton noted that only 20 per cent of the population has health insurance and more than half of these are public-sector workers.

“The lack of insurance means that too many people, including the poor and vulnerable, are denied access to timely medical care, due to long wait and inadequate service and equipment,” he said.

Dr. Tufton noted that in 2016, a total of 32 per cent of Jamaicans reported that they did not access care when needed due to financial reasons, while World Bank data (2011) reveal that the average

Jamaican with a non-communicable disease (NCD) allocates a third of his/her monthly household income to healthcare.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said the Government is looking to amend relevant legislation to require private health insurance holders to utilise their coverage at public facilities.

He noted that many persons who have private health insurance are utilising the public system at the expense of taxpayers.

“Many show their card, but many do not and those who do not… are causing the taxpayers of Jamaica to subsidise the private insurance companies,” he said.

He said that private health insurance providers have acknowledged the situation, but are asking the Government to address it in law.

“Over the coming months, we will have discussions to amend the law, where appropriate, to ensure that we have access at least to the database, so that we can charge against the private insurers when they use the public health system,” Dr. Tufton said.