Leader of the Opposition in Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, says health care has become one of the largest growing expenditures on budgets within the Caribbean region.
"Caribbean governments will have to confront this reality," Miss Mottley emphasised, as she addressed the Rural Electrification Pension Plan 20th anniversary dinner for employees, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel on May 2.
The Opposition Leader noted that diversification of risks and pooling of resources are absolutely critical in order to be able to keep the cost down for citizens.
"The truth is that if we can come together to create a single market and economy, and if we have the same (insurance) companies in the north as we do in the south, then the issue of an appropriate level of regulation as well as cost structuring ought to be on the table, to ensure that access to healthcare through affordable health insurance premiums becomes one of the things with which our governments are primarily concerned," Miss Mottley said.
She added that insurance companies have a responsibility to work with the governments to see how best products can be pooled to ensure that Caribbean citizens are able to afford access, particularly in their elderly years when they are not earning an income, but living off a pension.
Citing Sweden as an example where, irrespective of age, the basic premium for access to health insurance remains the same, Miss Mottley said the region has a duty to see how best it can give access to affordable health insurance to the five million people living in the English speaking Caribbean.
"We need to see how best can we work with the established companies to be able to ensure that premiums become affordable by increasing the size of the number of persons who are covered," she added.
The Rural Electrification Programme (REP) will be renamed Jamaica Energy Solutions Limited (JESL), and given a new mandate to develop renewable energy solutions. It has largely achieved its mandate, wiring 80,000 homes, and bringing Jamaica's electrification rate to 98 per cent.
The new entity will be charged with developing renewable energy solutions for those households more than three kilometres from the grid, to bring electrification to 100 per cent.
It will also promote energy efficiency and conservation; and provide project management services for the design and implementation of energy solutions for major housing initiatives by agencies of the state, especially where low-income earners are the targeted population for those housing solutions.
Miss Mottley was introduced by Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell.
Contact Latonya Linton