St. Maarten’s National Health Insurance could be delayed by three months

POSTED: 06/13/11 1:15 PM

St. Maarten – Even though the process of writing the law on the National Health Insurance could be shortened by 14 weeks, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor says there could be a three month delay in implementation. The government had earlier committed to having the system in place by January 1, 2012, but that could be delayed by three months based on how long it takes for the entire legislative process to be completed. That process includes handling and approval by the Council of Ministers, review by independent advisory bodies like the Council of Advice and Socio-Economic Council, and the handling in parliament.

The legislation is being drafted by a craftsman while the Ministry carries out a comparative study of what is offered elsewhere and efforts continue to create draft regulations on the package, tariffs, premiums and collection. The craftsman is a consultant and the comparative study is focused on the General Health Insurance (AZV) in Aruba.

“In general the transition process of the National Health Insurance is in progress as scheduled. The key components of the NHI are the tariff study, the development of a Health Information System (HIS) and the legislative trajectory. All these sub projects are on target,” the ministry has reported.

People can also expect to hear more about what is in the National Health Insurance when the Ministry rolls out a communication plan at the beginning of July. The aim of the plan is to give people information to the general population and stakeholders like the unions, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, insurance companies and health care providers.

The ministry is also continuing its efforts to have the tasks previously vested in the SVB and the BZV taken over by the SZV. So far the island took over decision making, invested in infrastructure and ICT, sought to raise the service level and begun the process of hiring and training staff to execute its tasks. The next and final step is taking over execution of the General Old Age Benefits (AOV). All rights and assets are protected by agreements between the Kingdom partners and based on negotiations.

The premiums in the National Health Insurance will be income based and consultations with key stakeholders like the Tax Department and the Receiver’s Office is helping the ministry to ensure everyone, who should pay, is paying. Difficult groups, like non tax payers, have been identified and the ministry says there will be a need to take adequate measures as the system evolves to ensure everyone pays.

According to answers provided by Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, the new system will be sustainable and adjustable. This assurance is based on the fact that scenario models with demographics and economic growth projections for the next 20 years has been calculated by an actuary based on information provided by the Civil Registry, the Department of Statistics (STAT), Census data, the Tax Office, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication and the SZV.

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.

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