Minister of Health John Boyce says he has ordered a review of the current model for financing of health care in Barbados, while cautioning that the state was modifying its business plan at the QEH “to make sure that the direct costs of the operation to central Government can be reduced”.
“There has already been put in place an increase in private fees charts at the QEH. Our specialist units in ophtamology and cardiology have been improved to increase our ability to attract customers from the region,” Boyce added.
He was delivering the feature address at the Sagicor Life Insurance Hospital Showcase And Information Seminar at the Hilton Barbados, Needham’s Point, St Michael, this morning.
He said he had “instructed” the planning unit at the Ministry of Health to carry out the review, adding that recommendations would be made to Cabinet with a view to having “a much more viable healthcare system, while ensuring that the mandate of universal health care is not compromised”.
The minister explained that due to the island’s limited financial resources it was necessary to explore sustainable financial models for health care.
He noted that the local sector was designed with built-in equity and universality, with all services, including pharmaceuticals, being offered free at the point of delivery in the public sector.
However, he said there was need for much more data on private healthcare services.
Accordingly, the minister said, this would require a protocol being worked out with private medical providers, allowing the Ministry of Health to monitor data, which would inform decisions in developing a new health care economic plan.
He said the ministry was also working with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Bank to put in place for Barbados, a full health information system, which would be followed by the roll out of a real time healthcare statistical model.
The minister also used the opportunity to urged Sagicor and other regional insurance companies operating on the island to refer more of their clients to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) for care.
He also challenged Sagicor to provide leadership in making a wider and more flexible range of healthcare premiums available to the public and in offering incentives to persons for practising lifestyle change and preventative care.
“Insurance companies like Sagicor have a vested interest in this kind of programme since increasing healthcare costs also eat away at their viability,” the Minister noted.
In her remarks, Patricia Brathwaite-Marshall, the Sagicor vice-president, said the aim of the showcase was to make clients and administrators aware of the best options in medical care.
She said the health facilities presented, provided affordable, first class medical care and stressed that the only thing which differentiates them from some of the well known facilities in the United States or Europe, was their address.
“Medical facilities such as the QEH and government-run polyclinics have been providing medical care for almost five decades and the Government has worked hard to ensure that these are on-par with those in developed countries. However, we understand that cases will arise that require consultation and even treatment from practitioners outside of Barbados.
“If we commit to providing the best care for our clients, then we must also empower you with the freedom of choice. Our clients think outside of their respective borders and can easily investigate new treatments, new facilities and specialists. For a multi-national organization, such as Sagicor, to keep pace with the globalization of the healthcare industry, we must tailor our solutions to meet the changing market,” Brathwaite-Marrshall said.
Hospitals on showcase included some from Columbia, Trinidad and Florida. There was also representation from the QEH.