A leading medical doctor has added her voice to the current debate about health care financing, suggesting that the introduction of user fees at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital(QEH) would be the wrong economic medicine at this time.
Dr Chaynie Williams, head of the QEH’s Accident & Emergency Department (A&E), told participants in a town hall meeting here last night on Finding a Sustainable Solution to Health Care Financing she was also opposed to going the route of private insurance schemes, which would require individuals to finance their health care on their own.
However, her remedy for addressing the QEH’s financial ills would be the establishment of a national health insurance scheme that would allow for pooling of health care costs.
“As you may be aware, I am against fees for service or user fees at the island’s health facilities. I am also against private insurance schemes,” Dr Williams told the gathering.
However, she believes a national health insurance scheme would be “the best fit for the country”. In fact, Dr Williams went further to suggest that Barbados could partner with other Caribbean countries in implementing such a plan.
“Is a population of 300,000 enough to actually fund a national health insurance programme or would a handful of catastrophic illnesses bankrupt the programme?” she asked, while noting that “Trinidad and Tobago is 45 minutes away and other islands are less than an hour away.”
She also pointed out that other countries such as Canada and Australia had joint systems which used tele-medicine and air transport to allow patients who were hours away to access health care.
“If we can pool our resources on a regional level we can actually offer health care at a cheaper cost to our patients,” Dr Williams contended.