De Weever confirms NHI will start this year

POSTED: 01/9/13 11:06 PM

St. Maarten – Public Health, Labour and Social Development Minister Dr. Cornelius de Weever has contradicted statements made by Finance Minister Roland Tuitt , who on Monday said that the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will not go into effect until next year.

Yesterday Minister de Weever said that the NHI will come on stream in a responsible manner this year.

“NHI will be phased and implemented in a responsible way starting in 2013. I have spoken to the President of Parliament and we are trying to schedule a date in the first quarter of 2013. I will be submitting legislation in the very near future to have this process initiated,” the minister told Today in an invited comment.

“We included 18 million guilders to cover the medical costs of all families. But the National Health Insurance will most likely go into effect per January 1, 2014,” Tuitt said on Monday.

Implementation of the NHI has been elusive since January 1, 2012. Delays in the draft law and handling in parliament has stymied the process. A report compiled by HBN Law firm last May outlined the implications of the new system.

“It will result in all residents and income tax subjects being obliged to take out the basic NHI insurance with SZV.  A guarantee fund will be established in order to cover the medical assistance required by uninsured persons. Care providers will only be able to appeal on this fund once they are able to prove that they have done everything within their power to recover the expenses made on the uninsured person and/or his warrantor.

The main difference between the current system and the NHI is that the NHI will contain one basic insurance and that insurers are obliged to accept all those who fall under its scope. It will, therefore no longer be possible to refuse a resident if he is not employed or a non-resident if he pays income taxes over his/her income. The NHI will be paid by the insured persons (with an income-dependent premium), an employers’ contribution and an annual government contribution for specific groups of insured persons.

The new tariff for the National Health Insurance is focused on containing healthcare costs. This also applies to the health system in general. In the latter case government will place more focus on preventative care. There are also plans to conduct a new health care study and create a new health information system that will monitor things like mortality and morbidity rates.”

“It is my intention to phase NHI implementation as we accumulate data from SZV and its Health Information System (HIS). We must have current and relevant data to substantiate every phase of NHI. This is a work in progress and we must do it responsibly,” Dr. de Weever reiterated.

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