Year-end period under consideration for National Health Scheme

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Minister of Health, Eugene Hamilton

Plans almost in consultation stage

By a Staff Writer

The latter part of 2016 is being eyed by Minister of Health, Hon. Eugene Hamilton as the period when the government will roll out the long awaited National Health Insurance scheme.

This comes as the program is about to hit the consultation stage before the government can make plans to implement the scheme.

Addressing the media at a press conference to launch the CIBC FirstCaribbean Breast Cancer Partnership with non-governmental organizations, “A Time 4 Us,” Minister Hamilton said the names of two additional consultants were recently submitted to him for approval to join the team.

Those names, however, will have to pass through the Cabinet, where approvals must be given before they are added.

It is the responsibility of the consultation team to talk with key stakeholders in St. Kitts and Nevis to obtain their input about drafting the policy, which could take several months.

“Providing that report will guide the implementation of the programme,” Minister Hamilton explained. “I anticipate the consultation will not take three {to} four months. After the four months consultation period and the presentation of that document, it will be determined by Cabinet at what point we start.”

The minister added, “My preferred date would be very late this year; November-December, but in all things, sometimes things do not go according to plan.”

Since taking office last year, Minister Hamilton, and by extension, the Government has been discussing how to implement of the Health Insurance Scheme.

According to the minister, this health scheme is expected to cover persons with pre-existing conditions, citizens, children and legal residents of the Federation.

However, when a reporter asked Minister Hamilton to what extent the government’s Insurance Scheme will cover someone with pre-existing conditions, especially cancer, he pointed out that because the scheme is going through a consultation process, there is no guarantee what the consultants and stakeholders will recommended.
To this end, the minister is urging private sector entities to have their employees remain on their current scheme, rather than having them holistically join the governmental programme when it comes on board.

“My preferred approach would be to provide incentives from the Government to the private sector to continue coverage wherever private sector partners are — not to remove people from the private sector programme to put them into some government organized programme,” Minister Hamilton commented.

The minister disclosed that when the new programme comes on stream it will not be a sweet-heart programme. He hopes the “private sector keeps the Rolls Royce programme.”

He said the government insurance policy will be available for those who are not registered in a private sector policy, even though it is open to everyone.

“There will be no denial,” the minister said. “Those with pre-existing conditions will be included. We intend to have children that are going to school and at risk everyday enrolled in it as well.”