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National Health Insurance Options Under Scrutiny

GOVERNMENT is exploring options for the introduction of a National Health Insurance Scheme in Saint Lucia.

According to a government statement, “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 revealed 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.”

He said Government “is developing the road map” leading to implementation of the Scheme and establishing “a National Health Regulatory Authority” to be responsible for “monitoring not only the implementation, but the operation of the Scheme,” because of “the possibility of abuse not only by the users but also by the providers.”

St. Hill says the road map is expected to be completed “within this financial year.”

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.”

Bazan explained, “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.”

On the other hand, he said: “You might have a well-funded system, but badly-designed – and this won’t help you either.”

“Both of these strings have to be complementary and well-harmonized. That’s 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.”

According to the statement, Bazan also acknowledged that National Health Insurance Schemes “have been difficult to implement around the world.”

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