Nevis To Move Toward National Health Scheme

CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (January 17, 2007)
Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration the Hon. Hensley Daniel said it has become necessary for the public to contribute to health care on Nevis to assist government with the expensive business of health care and issued a call to all to work with government and to place health higher on their list of priorities.
In an interview with the Department of Information, Mr. Daniel said that government’s resources were limited in terms of assisting everyone who needed care and planned to establish a National Health Scheme. The move would include the preparation of a programme for the engagement of the public which is expected to be completed by the end of January.
According to Mr. Daniel, a cursory check had revealed that government had expended in excess of $250,000 from the Consolidated Fund in 2006 to assist people with overseas treatment alone.“What we would like is for people to work with us on this [and] share their views on how it can be done. What essentially it is, is contributions from everybody across the board, workers in particular. There will be options for people to pay to add their family members but we need everybody to be on board.
“We as a public must begin to place health higher on our list of priorities. We take out money for liming, we take out money for all the entertainment things and we take out money for all other things but we must also budget for health care. We [NIA] are persuaded that if you leave the public up to itself to deal with health care, it wouldn’t, just like it wouldn’t, if you leave the public up to itself to save its own money for Social Security for when you become 62 [years old],” he said.
Mr. Daniel explained that a percentage for contributions would be arrived at and the compulsory contribution would serve as pre paid health care. It would also be used to upgrade facilities, improve patient care, facilitate care overseas and with strategic investment a portion of the money could be invested to provide government with enough money to be used within the health services on Nevis.
He said the Scheme would not be implemented till they had arrived at a point that was satisfactory to the people and the input of persons involved in insurance, banking, financing and medicine.
Mr. Daniel said schemes of that nature were nothing new in other parts of the world and made reference to Massachusetts in the United States of America. That state was in the process of implementing a similar scheme under which everyone was required to be insured by June, 2007 or risk committing an offence. The move he said was instituted because the State was plagued by a huge health bill which was a similar situation Nevis faced.

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