JIS News

The National Health Fund (NHF) has added the A1C blood test to its list of benefits, which will reduce by 80 per cent to 90 per cent, the cost of the test for diabetics, who are covered under the Fund. The A1C blood test is regarded as the gold standard for the monitoring and management of diabetes and NHF cardholders will be allowed two subsidized tests annually. The NHF subsidy amounts to $300 per test, which covers the cost of testing materials.
Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, Rae Barrett, who made the announcement on the occasion of World Diabetes Day at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, said that the test, which is simple, shows the average blood glucose level over the last three months.
Pointing to the benefits of the test, Mr. Barrett said it provides the best available measurement of blood glucose level at the point of care, to efficiently and adequately monitor glycemic control.
“It is also to improve the management and care of diabetics in order to reduce the long-term complications and associated costs,” he said, noting that the NHF subsidy will reduce the cost of the test to beneficiaries. Diabetics will be able to access the test more frequently to improve the management and treatment of their condition.
The NHF cardholder will be able to access the test benefit at NHF participating providers such as hospitals, laboratories, medical practitioners and other authorized medical facilities.
Axis-Shield, a Norwegian manufacturer, has agreed to provide the NHF with its most modern testing instrument, the NycoCard Reader II, which will be supplied to the medical providers free of cost. So far, 18 providers have signed contracts with the NHF to provide the A1C test.
“Coverage for the test is now available in all parishes except Trelawny, Clarendon and Manchester. I am encouraging interested diabetes care providers to contact us [NHF] to participate in the programme,” Mr. Barrett appealed.
The CEO informed that in July of this year, some five workshops were held in the parishes of St. Ann, St. James, Manchester and Kingston for 200 medical personnel, who were trained in the use of the NycoCard Reader II testing instrument.
He urged NHF cardholders living with diabetes, to take advantage of the benefit, while adding that a public education programme was underway, which included direct mailing of promotional material to diabetics.
There are approximately 60,000 diabetics enrolled for the NHF card benefits.

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