General practitioner threatens to sue over SZV contract

POSTED: 08/16/11 11:42 AM

St. Maarten – A general practitioner – Dr. Neville de Weever-Labega – has threatened to take government to court if he is not given a contract that will allow him to treat patients that fall under the Social and Sickness Insurances (SZV). In turn the SZV’s Chief Operations Officer Reginald Willemsberg has said that he could get a contract if he can attract patients who fell under the FZOG or who hold insurance cards issued by the Government of St. Maarten. No new doctors will be able to gain access to patients who fall under the sickness insurance offered by the SZV because there are already “too many doctors covering that group.

Labega wrote a letter to the editor on Monday to vent his frustration that he has to “beg in order to make a decent living.” In that letter he gives the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius De Weever until September 1 to have the SZV issue him a contract that will take effect by October 1. If it does not happen de Weever-Labega said he will “pursue the matter to the highest court possible.”
“I have scores of patients who would like me to be their general practitioner, but without a contract with the SVB that, of course, will not be possible. I have no alternative but to take our government to court on this matter. I think I should have the opportunity to make a decent living in my own country and I simply will not be denied that right. I will be pursuing it to the highest court possible, if necessary even the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It is a human rights matter now,” Labega wrote in his letter.

Asked about the matter Willemsberg explained that the SVZ will sign a contract with de Weever-Labega if he can find patients that fall under the former FZOG and who have cards issued by government – civil servants, teachers and people receiving social welfare because there is no quota on the amount of doctors that can treat these patients. There is no way that de Weever-Labega will be able to accept people who fall under the SVZ’s sickness insurance because the body has already surpassed the quota of doctors.
“Right now we have just over 27, 000 people who fall under the ZV and we are supposed to have one doctor for every 2,000 patients. That means that only 14 doctors should be offering care to this patient group. Right now we have 19. And so there is no way we could grant Dr. de Weever-Labega a contract for the ZV. However, if he can find enough people who are FZOG or government card holders we’ll grant him a contract,” Willemsberg said.
The SZV COO assured that de Weever-Labega will receive a letter with this position when they reply to his latest request.

The row between de Weever-Labega and the SZV has also somewhat opened the door on how many people have sickness insurance. The doctor has said that he understands 54,074 people are registered as living on the Dutch side and that would give each of the 20 general practitioners roughly 2,700 patients each.
According to data that Willemsberg provided, the SVZ administers insurance on behalf of roughly 34,000 people, which is 62 percent of the population. That would split the remaining population into a group of uninsured people and a group of privately insured people. The last health survey estimates that 30 percent of the population is uninsured. In real terms that represents 16,222 people. The actual figure for privately uninsured would then be 3,852, which constitutes roughly eight percent of the registered population.

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