The government of Saint Lucia is exploring options for the introduction of a National Health Insurance for the country.
A two day workshop involving technical officers from various departments within the public service was conducted by consultants from the EU Socieux + Programme – a technical assistance facility set-up and co-funded by the EU, France, Spain and Belgium.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Felix St. Hill, has been quoted by the Communications Unit of the Ministry of Health as saying that consultations will be held with all trade union and staff associations representing workers within the health sector, as well as a broad spectrum of other stakeholders within the national economy.
“What we’re doing here is developing the road map. The road map that would lead to implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme and we’re looking at establishing a National Health Regulatory Authority that would be responsible for monitoring not only the implementation, but the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme because of the possibility of abuse not only by the users but also by the providers. So we have to ensure that legislation and every other aspect of policy regarding health insurance is put in place,” he stated.
St. Hill added that the road map is expected to be completed within this financial year and will provide clarity as to the direction government should pursue.
Technical Consultant Expert with Socieux +, Markus Bazan, a health economist with over 30 years of experience on a national and international level, stressed that consultations with as many stakeholders as possible are imperative in the formulation of a National Health Insurance Scheme.
“There are two basic rules for a good healthcare reform. It has to be very well designed and very well funded. If one of those things is missing, you might have a good system but badly funded and it wouldn’t get you forward. You might have a well funded system but badly designed this wouldn’t help you either,” Bazan explained.
“Both of these strings have to be complementary and well harmonized. This is the reason why we like to bring together all people relevant in this process, in order to have a common aim, a common target for the good of the people of Saint Lucia.”
Bazan acknowledged that National Health Insurance Schemes have been difficult to implement around the world.
“On the other hand you have very small countries like Denmark or Switzerland or the Netherlands where you have a common sense and common target and thus you don’t have such resistance within the population and the stakeholders, because everybody gives in a wee bit and everybody gets out something from it and this has to be the process and this is tough work to persuade the other side,” he observed.