by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to table the National Health Insurance Scheme in 2024, said National Health Advisor Dr. Patrick Martin.
“Judging from Dr Drew’s Heart Rate, it looks like he wants a 2024 implementation. I can say that we’re getting there. There is something already at Church Street. Getting there is now dependent on the political timetable. All of the technical work has been done by the NCD Commission, Azilla Clarke, Clifford Griffin and Nicole Slack Liburd, and before them, the Late Elvis Newton et al.”
The cost of the National Health Insurance Scheme has long been debated as a reason for its delayed implementation.
“In the final analysis, it is how we are going to pay for it. It’s an EC $220 million question per year. When things appear to be slow, it’s either a lack of political will or the dance is not paying for the lights.
With the cost expected to be over 200 million dollars annually, by what means will the National Health Insurance Scheme be funded, Citizenship by Investment or taxation?
“No, the volume is not there, neither taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. It has to be a tax on income, and it cannot be CBI (Citizenship By Investment). You do not pay for Health and Education- those core subjects. You don’t pay for those from non-tax revenue because non-tax revenue can fluctuate. Today, you have CBI; tomorrow, you don’t, and there are people across the Atlantic who are itching to pull the plug on that. So, CBI should be regarded as [a] top-up.”
Dr Martin shared that a lot of people do not pay for healthcare, including gunshot victims. The Government normally covers the cost.
“The gunshot culture has really driven up our cost. It’s moderate a bit, but a guy comes in shot up, the cost of resuscitating him from the ambulance to the operating theatre, to [the] ICU (Intensive Care Unit) is higher than the cost to keep the hospital open per day by a factor of two to 1.”
Martin added, “Then, of course, people walk out of the hospital, can’t pay, but then they have an iPhone.”
How can the hospitals recoup those costs?
“Those who have insurance are charged, but that’s like 30% of the population. If you do a national plan, [hospitals] and health centres can recoup.”