With approximately 40 per cent of Barbadians said to be footing their own healthcare bill, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is assuring residents that his administration has not abandoned plans to revamp the healthcare system so that every citizen could better benefit.
In fact, Stuart said the Ministry of Health is still working on a proposal to identify the best funding model, which would benefit everyone.
“The 2014 National Health Accounts study found that 40 per cent of Barbadians paid for healthcare through out-of-pocket arrangements. This is a serious finding and should not be ignored,” said Stuart.
“I have been assured that coming out of the consultations, the Ministry of Health is working on a full range of proposals for putting together a package of comprehensive healtcare services and the financing mechanisms that will benefit all,” he told the gathering at the official opening of the MD Alliance Surgery and Birthing Centre in Belleville, St Michael on Friday evening.
Minister of Health John Boyce later told Barbados TODAY that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and therefore he was not in a position to say how soon a firm recommendation would be put forward.
However, Boyce explained that while a number of ideas have been put forward, the most likely funding method would include a national contributory scheme which would consist of government as well as employees and employers making a contribution.
Boyce insisted this was not a way for his administrtion to get Barbadians paying for healthcare services, which have been generally free at the point of delivery for decades.
“It has nothing to do with having anybody pay because in other words government’s commitment to healthcare remains so there is no question about changing that,” assured Boyce.
“As we go on and recognize that the cost of healthcare keeps rising we want to be able to reach as many people as may need health care. So we have to be constantly reviewing the services we offer – how can we reduce the cost of these services while still maintaining the kind of quality that people look for. So, that is the kind of financing that we are working on developing – obviously with government, with the private sector, with the insurance companies and with persons who actually pay. That is a process that is always occurring. So healthcare financing has always been very topical but even as we look at implementing a new option we still keep developing and improving the system we have,” he said.
“If you can improve the quality and efficiency of your service then the cost will automatically decrease matchingly. So, it is that kind of thing we are talking about,”Boyce added.
The new boutique healthcare facility in Belleville, which hires six full-time staff members and a number of sessionals, has two operating theatres and is licensed to house five patients.
Executive Director Dr Eltora Bennett said the new medical facility was six years in the making.
“We are a fully licensed hospital capable of keeping and managing patients – male and female, adult and child – overnight. We are available 24\7 . . . We have proven our ability to handle a wide range of cases – elective and planned, as well as emergencies, minor or major, minimal and invasive,” said Bennett.
Stuart commended Bennett and her staff and partners on the accomplishment, saying it complemented the current health service provisions, adding that he saw it as a partnership.
Stuart urged operators of the facility to seek international accreditation, always operate with care and uphold the standards of the Medical Council and the Nursing Council of Barbados.