NHF Pays Over $1.1 Billion in Subsidy Claims


The National Health Fund (NHF), last month, exceeded the $1.1 billion mark in paying claims subsidy for card benefits, with just under $400 million in drugs provided for beneficiaries under the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP).
According to a Ministry Paper tabled in the House of Representatives by Health Minister, Horace Dalley, yesterday (June 19) an increasing number of Jamaicans are benefiting from the Fund, with membership for individual benefits reaching 302,540 as at May 31. Of this number, 162,623 were JADEP beneficiaries.
NHF individual benefits provide two health cards – the NHFcard, which provides assistance for all persons residing in the island, who may have any of the 15 chronic illnesses regardless of age or gender, and JADEP, which provides for ages 60 and over, suffering with any of the 10 chronic illnesses covered. JADEP drugs are free, but persons may be required to pay the pharmacy a dispensing fee for their prescription.
According to the Ministry Paper, “the enrollment of beneficiaries remains a major initiative of the NHF, and in order to adequately and efficiently serve its clients, the Fund has expanded its customer care department at its Kingston head office and has set up customer care desks at the Cornwall and Mandeville Regional hospitals. Additional desks are to be set up at the Spanish Town and St. Ann’s Bay Hospitals.”
NHFcard benefits to members were expanded in 2005 from drugs only to include diabetic supplies such as lancets, insulin penfills, glucose strips and syringes. Glucometers for testing blood glucose levels are provided by private sector partners free of cost for NHFcard diabetics.
In 2004, the NHF began a community outreach programme and this has been expanded over the years to reach more Jamaicans, providing screening tests, and public education and information for chronic and other illnesses.
Meanwhile, NHF Institutional Benefits is helping to improve the country’s health delivery system. To date, 92 project requests have been approved for government organizations and 28 for non-government organizations, accounting for a total commitment of $4.2 billion.
“Projects are evaluated to ensure consistency with the government’s priorities provided by the Ministry of Health. Projects have been funded for equipment and vehicle acquisition, infrastructure and facilities improvement, public health including healthy lifestyle promotion, immunization, environmental health, and training and research,” the Ministry Paper said.
Last year, the NHF launched its intranet ‘NHFi’ a private communications network for registered healthcare professionals in the island and designed to facilitate their information needs. The NHFi is available free of cost to its users.
Also, the Fund has developed ‘NHFCoB’, a computer application to facilitate coordination of benefits for NHFcard beneficiaries. The application enables holders of more than one health card, such as the NHFcard, NIGold and private health cards, to access all these benefits by allowing pharmacies to use a single card for processing.
In addition, a contract has been awarded for the development and implementation of a national health record system, ‘NHRs’, as a tool to better maintain and manage patient information for all Jamaicans.
The aim is to maintain a simple database of basic medical information for all Jamaicans to facilitate easy access by their medical provider. The information to be recorded include: blood pressure and pulse, height and weight, allergy and medical conditions.

JIS Social