While the Freundel Stuart administration struggles to find a sustainable means of funding healthcare, Barbadian seniors are being offered an avenue through which to cover their own healthcare costs.
The City of Bridgetown Credit Union (COB), the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) and the membership programme JIPA Connect Friday signed a memorandum of understanding to cement an agreement to offer seniors discounted, but high quality healthcare through the 300,000 strong JIPA network in the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States.
Those who sign up for a health savings account at the credit union will receive a card giving them access to medical services.
The health savings account will attract an interest rate once the funds are used for medical purposes.
Addressing a brief ceremony Friday morning at the COB in Bridgetown to announce the partnership, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JIPA Dr Kester Nedd said the new programme was designed to help Barbadians find a better way to fund healthcare, since Government could not do it alone.
“We have been working with Caribbean leaders, some insurance companies, consumers and healthcare providers to focus on how we could shift the paradigm in healthcare. The key problem that we have in our industry in the Caribbean is creating ways to fund healthcare. The funding of healthcare is tied to quality of healthcare and access to healthcare,” Nedd said.
“While this is not an insurance policy, it is a way for you to put aside funds so that you can utilize a large group purchasing arrangement to purchase healthcare in an affordable way. The other benefit is access.”
The Grenada-born neurosurgeon, who practises in the US, said he had already negotiated agreements with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a number of local private physicians to provide some service.
The programme was initiated after the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited cancelled BARP’s Golden Health Insurance Plan last year.
The health savings account forms part of a wider health plan for BARP, which champions the well-being of Barbadians aged 50 or above.
BARP President Ed Bushell said the plan came in handy, especially for members over 84, who do not qualify for “normal insurance”.
“In Barbados there are many people who have preexisting conditions, and because of age, and for some reasons, can’t get insurance. This is taking charge and responsibility of your own health. Do not wait for anybody to do it for you. I look forward to a really good take up and application of the health savings account,” Bushell said.
Welcoming the partnership, COB Chief Executive Officer Steve Belle said the new programme had the potential to “transform the lives” of Barbadians, describing it as an historic move.
“Ours is a world plagued with illnesses and diseases, and oftentimes one wonders if this island of some 280, 000 persons can withstand the ravages wrought by chronic illnesses,” Belle said.
“We are fully cognizant that societal challenges invariably affect private sector institutions and therefore, understands that we must share the burden of improving the quality of life of our members and Barbadians in general,” added Belle.