JIS News

As the Government continues to encourage more persons to take advantage of the benefits provided under the National Health Fund (NHF), senior citizens in particular are also being reminded that both the NHF and Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) cards can be used simultaneously to purchase their prescription drugs.
Explaining the process in a JIS News interview, Vice President of Operations at the NHF, Cecil White says that, “if a person has a prescription with four items, but only two are covered under JADEP, they use the prescription on the JADEP card for the two that are covered under JADEP and the two not covered under JADEP, goes on the NHF card, so you use the JADEP card to satisfy the full entitlement”. He explains that under JADEP, there are fixed limits. “Each person is entitled to a fixed amount each month, but the person may have a prescription requiring more than that amount, so then the additional amount goes on the NHF card and they receive a subsidy on that,” he adds. This minimizes the out-of-pocket cost for the drugs, Mr. White says. Beneficiaries of the NHF who are diabetics also receive supplies at subsidized rates. While these supplies only benefit persons who are under the NHF benefit scheme, of note is the fact that JADEP beneficiaries can access this coverage as well by subscribing to the NHF.
“Therefore, we encourage all persons who are holders of the JADEP card to also apply for the NHF card in the event that all their drugs are not covered under JADEP now, so that they can access diabetic supplies,” the Vice President says. Meanwhile, Mr. White notes that the NHF has trained staff to provide adequate information about JADEP to beneficiaries. “We have a massive public information programme.we go out into communities every Thursday, we are in remote communities across the island. We have several health fairs each weekend and we have opportunities to talk to groups of people, so that campaign takes the message out,” he informs.
In addition, customer service desks are being established across the island, with three such stations already placed at the Cornwall Regional, Mandeville and Kingston Public Hospitals.
“Persons who go into those offices get an opportunity to talk to the persons and have the programme explained to them. We also educate our providers – pharmacists – who can explain in detail how the various programmes work,” Mr. White notes. Information on prescription drugs under the NHF are listed in the individual benefits booklet, an annual publication which also lists the drugs covered under JADEP. They are available free of charge and can be collected at any pharmacy, or information site.
The NHF, which was established in 2003, manages JADEP under its individual benefits scheme. The latter was established to improve access to essential drugs through payment subsidies for persons over the age of 60, suffering from 10 chronic illnesses.
Currently, JADEP is self reporting, meaning that persons enrolled do not require a medical certificate from a doctor, although proof of age must be presented. The registration process is easy and is an automatic transition for persons already covered by the NHF.
“The NHF beneficiaries on reaching 60, automatically get a JADEP card. Persons who are not under NHF who are enrolling in the programme for the first time, just need to complete the pink application form, providing proof of age and indicating what illness or illnesses they have,” Mr. White explains. He informs that this can be done at most of the larger health centres as well as at some service providers. “Some pharmacists provide that service or it can be done at one of our customer service desks,” he says. Persons may also go into the NHF head office on Dominica Drive in New Kingston.
“When a person is enrolling, the person needs to provide a valid picture ID and also documentation showing their age,” Mr. White adds.
Applications are also accepted through the mail. “If persons are going to mail in applications, they need to photocopy their ID with proof of age on it.
Alternatively, persons with a TRN (Taxpayer Registration Number) should put their TRN numbers on the JADEP application.it is not an absolute requirement right now, but through the TRN we are able to verify the person’s age. If you have a TRN, you need not supply any other form of proof of age,” he notes.
For elderly persons who are unable to complete the registration process on their own, an authorized person may do so on their behalf.
“There’s provision in the application process for what you may call guardians to apply for the card on behalf of people in their care or even on behalf of persons institutionalized. We collect information on the guardian. and they are allowed to fill in the card for the person they are acting for,” the Vice President explains.
After an application is approved, the beneficiary will then receive an electronic swipe card, which should be used each time he or she purchases prescription drugs.
The card is swiped at the pharmacy and the transaction is automatically updated when the drug is provided, so that the stocks can be monitored by the NHF.