New health care fees will be introduced at the St. George’s General hospital and other health facilities on the island.
According to Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele the move is aimed at creating “a more transparent access to health care for all” in Grenada.
Speaking to reporters at a recent press conference, the senior government minister said that Cabinet has received a proposal for the new fees from the Ministry of Health and the hope is that this would bring about fairness in the system.
He pointed out that as it currently stands, everyone is charged for certain services but not everyone receives it because some cannot afford to pay.
He said that is not an equitable situation and not one that government hopes to continue with.
He described the introduction of the rates as a three-part process with the first part seeking to make sure that the administrative process, accounting and record keeping were done properly.
“…We are well underway with that, looking at the approval of the rates. When the rates are applied, they are applied also with the strengthening of the social services that exist along the hospital and our health care facilities to ensure that those (persons) that cannot afford to pay, receive prompt service through the mechanism in place with social workers in the area and that those who can afford to pay, to pay our charge and to pay for the service,” he said.
Minister Steele is confident that this is the mechanism that has to be put in place to ensure there is equity in the health services being offered to the public.
He spoke of government wanting to move away from a system in which some persons are not being treated fairly in the delivery of health
“Basically what is happening is that as I said certain services, everyone is charged, whether you can afford to pay or not and as a result it leads to denial of services to certain individuals and in our opinion this inability to meet financial expenses does not change the value of their life,” he said.
Minister Steele touched on a plan being developed for government to subsidise health insurance for those persons who cannot afford to pay for health care.
He noted that a significant amount of Grenadians do have health insurance and mechanism has not been put in place within our health system to charge patients who have health insurance.
“…This is what we are seeking to do”, said Minister Steele who is the Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George constituency.
“…Those who have health insurance and those who have the ability to pay will be charged at the health facilities and the General Hospital in particular and mechanisms are going to be in place to ensure that those who cannot afford to pay get the prompt service that they deserve as a citizen of Grenada,” he added.
Minister Steele disclosed that the fees would be released when the social mechanisms are in place for the implementation to take place.
“All three will happen at the same time – the setting up and initialising of the proper accounting and record keeping system, the rates that will go onto that and the social structure to make sure that all individuals receive prompt service and for those who can afford to pay,’ he said.
The Government Minister branded the plan as not an increase in rates and not a charge in health fees across the board but rather “it is a changing of the mechanism”.