Government is moving forward with the National Health Insurance and hoping to launch it during the first half of this year, according to Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele.
He told reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing that the Keith Mitchell-led government has agreed on a proposed budget of $500,000 to be used to start the insurance scheme.
The implementation of a National Health Insurance scheme is aimed at providing better health care to services to every Grenadian, whether or not they can afford it.
Cabinet had set up a review committee in 2015 headed by President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey to chart the way forward and to make the service a reality.
One of the recommendations of the committee was the setting up of a Secretariat to help push the work forward.
Minister Steele along with Minister of Implementation have been working very closely with the Secretariat on setting up the Health insurance scheme.
He said that one of the things the EC$500, 000.00 budget would be used for is pushing forward a National Health Accounts study.
“There is what’s called Health accounts, where the actual cost of health care, total cost in Grenada is looked at and then we divide that to the individuals; we try to find an amount that it cost per person”, he told reporters.
“…They have also been given a mandate to seek what could be referred to as Seed capital to start up that; to pursue that avenue as well, to pursue reinsurance avenues and to get consultation. In particular we are working very closely with the European Union on that part of the budgetary support…” he said.
The Minister pointed out that the National Health Insurance will be done on a phased introduction that will provide a basket of services that will grow as time proceeds.
He indicated that the scheme needs to be tested out and adjusted accordingly.
“There are other factors that are involved. We are very optimistic on our time schedules, very aggressive on our time schedules because it’s something that is long overdue to the people of Grenada but there are other factors beyond our control that we have to get done. So far we’re well on the way to doing that but so far we are on target,” he said
Minister Steele cited the critical challenges as “the actual costing of” of the insurance scheme, getting “the possible seed investment that would accelerate the process” and to make sure that “the health system within Grenada is ready to offer the National Health Insurance.”
“If we don’t (get the funds), it would mean that the basket (of services to be provided to the public) would be smaller…”, he remarked.
In spite of the many challenges in the health sector, the senior government minister said that one of the major steps this year would be the establishing of electronic medical records to make sure that every Grenadian has one regardless of status.
He said this record would be accessible throughout the health system.
The NNP administration has been under fire from the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on its track record in health especially services provided at the St. George’s General hospital.