STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE RONNIE W. SKELTON
4TH, JANUARY 2016
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SYSTEM
Fellow Residents of the Virgin Islands. This New Year ushers in a new era of health security and financial protection for everyone that calls these Virgin Islands home. The historic National Health Insurance System has become fully operational, providing health coverage for all registered beneficiaries regardless of age, health condition, or financial status. We have taken another bold step in fulfilling the Government’s pledge that every resident, from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke, will have affordable access to quality healthcare services when they need it.
We take great pride in this achievement of Universal Health Coverage, upholding the 1948 World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution and other international instruments that declare health a fundamental human right.
In celebrating this achievement, we also celebrate the journey that brought us to this milestone. Many useful suggestions were shared publicly and privately by members of the insurance and healthcare industries, and residents from all walks of life – all of whom share the goal of a health system that will operate in the best interest of the entire population.
Legitimate concerns were raised regarding the medium to long-term solvency of the NHI Fund. I am pleased to say that a new actuarial study has been completed and its projections are consistent with the NHI Financial Model Report prepared in 2012. Both reports showed the Fund to be sustainable, provided that its inherent risks are managed skillfully. I will shortly be seeking authorization from the Cabinet to table these reports in the House of Assembly.
Various risk management mechanisms are built in to the NHI design, including reinsurance to protect against catastrophic claims over Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand dollars ($250,000.00). After evaluating three tenders, an agreement has been reached with Caribbean Insurance (Health) Limited to provide reinsurance coverage in affiliation with international partners with effect from January 1, 2016.
We are grateful to local insurance agencies for participating in the tender process, and for accommodating the needs of residents who wish to purchase supplemental health insurance policies. Supplemental policies may be used to defray out-of-pocket expenses on co-payments and additional billing when annual limits have been exceeded; or in cases where the fees charged by private healthcare providers exceed NHI rates.
Local healthcare providers are also doing their part to make the implementation of NHI a success. The following providers have signed Participating Partner Agreements and are now a part of the NHI network:
B&F Medical Complex Ltd.
Dr. K. P. Anderson Ltd.
BVI Health Services Authority
Dr. Dawn Bain Medical Office
VI Medical Clinic
Dr. Marvin Flax of Crown Dental
PicSmith Medical Services
Eureka Medical Clinic
Bougainvillea Clinic Limited
Penn Medical Center Inc.
Tortola Vision Center
Therapy Works BVI Limited; and
Therapy Works Virgin Gorda Limited
Rhymer’s Dental Care
Dr. Juan Rhymer
Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Apex Medical Center
Julien Physical Therapy
Arrangements are also in place for residents to access specialized healthcare overseas on referral, or in cases of emergency when travelling abroad. An Agreement with the Florida-based JIPA Network and its affiliation with Aetna, Inc. and other international partners provides preferred access to hundreds of high quality medical facilities in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. Through an affiliation with Europ Assistance, world-wide medical assistance will be provided in emergencies.
NHI pre-authorisations for overseas transfers will be managed by an in-house Medical Director, in consultation with the patient's referring physician and overseas specialists. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irad Potter, will perform the duties of NHI Medical Director while recruitment continues for a full-time Medical Director. After consideration of public concerns and widespread misinformation, the decision was taken not to establish a Medical Review Committee.
We will continue to engage with private insurance companies, healthcare providers and other key partners to monitor utilisation and make any further adjustments necessary to improve the NHI System as we move forward together.
I also commend the many employers and residents who took the opportunity to sign up during our community registration drive, and strongly encourage those who haven't yet registered, to do so without delay in order to access benefits and avoid legal penalties.
Since the start of registration on September 1st, over twenty-five thousand, five hundred (25,500) men, women and children have been registered, and the numbers are climbing daily.
I must also express deep appreciation to the Social Security Board and its dedicated NHI Division for their hard work, as well as the NHI Steering Committee and the various consulting firms for their invaluable contributions.
Fellow Residents, we have listened to your many words of encouragement and concern and carefully considered the needs of persons on all sides of the NHI debate. The Government has prudently examined the evidence and made the difficult choices that we believe will serve the overall best interest of the Territory. The time has now come to move forward together in a positive direction.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development remains focused on its mission to continually improve and strengthen the health system to ensure that it delivers services at internationally recognized standards of quality. But building a healthy community requires much more than removing financial barriers or improving the quality of health care. It requires each of us to take responsibility for preventing and controlling chronic and infectious diseases; reduce the risk of accidents and injuries; seek treatment early when we do get sick; follow the advice of our doctors to manage chronic conditions; and generally make responsible use of the benefits that National Health Insurance will provide.
And so, I close by saying thanks for your unceasing prayers and support. May Jehovah bless us all with good health, peace, joy and prosperity in 2016 and beyond.