Barbadians had their say about the new tax which was implemented by Government on October 1. The tax requires employers to pay 1.5 per cent, while employees pay one per cent as a part of their Health Services Contribution (HSC).
On Tuesday, persons entering and exiting the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) told Barbados TODAY how they felt about the increase.
A man who wished to be identified as Soca Mac said the levy was necessary as Barbadians have become accustomed to having everything free and the country cannot continue going in that direction.
“It is about time that Barbadians pay for certain things to get the country moving right. You cannot expect to get everything free. Free medication, free bus rides. No, it should not be like that. Most persons should pay at least $5 or $10. It is a lot of money we spend on imported drugs,” he said.
Another lady who wished to remain unidentified said she did not know as she was “not working right now”.
Joan Cadogan told Barbados TODAY she hoped the increase would lead to things improving in the state-owned hospital.
“I would like things to get better,” she said.
A man who wished to maintain anonymity echoed Cadogan’s statements noting that he too hoped the tax would lead to better service at the hospital.
“I hope it improves some time. The process is really slow, but I hope they put things in place to make it really improve the long wait. People leave home early on mornings and when it is evening time they are still waiting to get treatment,” he said.
Malcolm Worrell who is an employee at the state-owned QEH expressed concern that some people could not afford to pay the fee.
“I work here for 22 years and I honestly believe that they did it for years, people did not have to pay and they live. I do not know if it is a politics thing or a money thing. Them looking for money to kill people cause people ain’t got a lot of money. If you doing it for the people free and they living well then you should continue it,” Worrell said.
However, Juliet Williams was not of the same opinion and said she did not see the problem with the HSC. She believed it would still be cheaper than seeking private medical attention.
“I do not see anything wrong with it. It is better than having to go to the private doctor. You are contributing to your country, to maintaining your own health. I think that one per cent health levy is nothing in comparison to having good health,” Williams said.
One elderly lady who did not want to identified as she was entering the QEH said that it was “terrible”.
Tyronne Cox who has had major surgery on his left foot last year said he has already begun to pay for his medication. He said with all the taxes imposed on him, as well as being declared medically unfit, it may lead to his early death.
“Well if you paying for so much different things, light bill gone up twenty dollars, water. Something put on, don’t care if you use it or not, you got to pay that. So these extra paying out, paying out, soon all of the sick people like me are going to end up in the graveyard,” Worrell said.
Another man who also did not give his name said, “they got to do what they got to do”.
Erlynthia Inniss told Barbados TODAY that if some Barbadians can find money to attend parties then they should find the one per cent increment because their health is more important.
“If you are going partying and stuff like that you would find the money so, therefore, you should pay. It would definitely help with the overall running of the hospital because right now the hospital out of certain medications,” she said.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, explained in Parliament on Tuesday how the HSC was being collected during a discussion of the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2018.
“There is nothing at all sinister about having the Health Service Contribution collected by the National Insurance Scheme and paid directly to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Simply because it allows for a level of efficiency with respect to the QEH being able to execute its mandate,” Straughn said.
The Member of Parliament of Christ Church West Central explained that employers are required to pay their 1.5 per cent for the Health Service Contribution to the National Insurance Scheme by November 15, 2018.