HEALTH and Wellness Minister, Mary Isaac has described a National Health Insurance (NIH) plan for Saint Lucians as “an absolute necessity”.
However, as essential as the health plan might be, implementing remains a challenge for government, which is now combating two major problems associated with its realization.
Last week, Isaac explained that government is confounded about how it will finance the NIH plan and how soon it can become operational.
She said that all assessments that have to be made on the plan were completed and that government is currently looking at different options dealing with the plan’s financing.
Previous governments had seen the need for an NIH. However, timeframes have never been set and it was never implemented.
This government, in keeping with the trend of past governments regarding a National Health Insurance, made the subject part of its overall thesis on the reformation of the country’s health care system.
“We have extensive plans for the health care sector, which will unfold in the coming months,” Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said last November.
In fact, health care was a top priority on government’s agenda when Chastanet held a press conference to mark his government’s first 100 days in office last year. He described the health care system in the country at the time as “unsustainable”, pointing out that health insurance needed to become a priority.
So important was the subject at the time that Chastanet considered the OECS region having blanket coverage so as to reduce individual cost region-wide.
Isaac admitted that having such insurance is something “we have to work on”.
“It is a necessity because what we have now is a lot of people who are not well, going without proper care, who do not have the finances to access the medical care,” she said.
The country, she added, is losing many of its people due to a lack of access to proper health care.
“We must put a national health insurance in place to take care of our people,” Isaac said.