Minister for Health, Kenneth Darroux, has praised the official implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) Pilot Program, saying that it is a “historic move” towards the goal of optimal healthcare.
The program seeks to assist in relieving the burdens of young mothers and mothers-to-be who encounter difficulty in financing critical healthcare needs for themselves or their children.
Speaking at the launch of the insurance program on Monday morning at the Fort Young Hotel, Darroux said that in the past, the idea of implementing this program, managed by the Dominica Social Security (DSS), had been a “futile illusion,” but now the government’s move towards making this plan a reality is a “bold” step.
“Your government has now taken the bold and grateful decision to implement a Pilot National Health Insurance targeting, in the first instance, single mothers with children. Indeed a very historic move worthy of a round of applause,” he said.
According to Darroux, under the program, the mothers below the age of thirty-five who are pregnant or have children of three years or younger must be resident or living permanently in Dominica to be able to claim under the program. This applies to both nationals and non-nationals.
A Multi-Purpose Identification Card (MPID) will be used as the form of identification for persons who wish to claim under the program.
The benefits of the insurance package include private sector services that are not provided by the government. This excludes services provided at the primary healthcare levels as, according to Darroux, these services are already free of charge.
The package also includes coverage for services that are not available locally where beneficiaries may have to travel abroad to receive medical assistance.
The National Health Insurance will pay up to eighty percent of the medical invoices/bills, and the remaining twenty percent will be met by the beneficiaries.
If the claimant is unable to pay, the amount will be given as a loan and a payment plan will be arranged between the claimant and the DSS.
Payments will be made directly to the medical facility from both the DSS and the beneficiaries so as to ensure that the monies are spent as intended.
Darroux described the insurance program as a “health financing mechanism and policy tool” geared towards achieving the health policy goals of the Dominican government.
“It is anticipated that this will serve a dual purpose for improving funding for health services and at the same time improving the quality and access to healthcare for mothers and children,” he added.
He said the program will not only generate increased resources for the health sector but also guarantee health security and accessible services and support as well as social solidarity.
“This is an essential element in guaranteeing the right to health,” the minister remarked.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Director of the DSS, Mrs. Janice Jean-Jacques Thomas, the Ministry for Health and the Ministry of Finance for the implementation of the program which was included in the 2016/2017 National Budget.
A cheque of E.C.$ 5-million sourced from the Citizenship By Investment Program (CBI) was presented by the Minister for Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit, to the Minster for Health who then presented it to Director of the DSS for the funding of the program.