The Cabinet appointed National Health Insurance Committee has submitted its final report to government with respect to the coming into being of a National Health Insurance scheme for the country.
This was disclosed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen, St. George’s.
According to Nimrod, the sum of $101,400 is needed for the implementation of the Health Insurance scheme.
He said the committee has also submitted a number of proposals on how funds could be raised to finance the National Health Insurance scheme.
However, Minister Nimrod said the proposals, which have been submitted coincides with measures taken to increase revenue for the self-styled Home Grown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) introduced by government to address a serious fiscal deficit facing Grenada.
“It was proposed that a timeline should be given and then we work at that to see how best we can resolve the budget but really and truly the essence of all this is the government’s efforts to try to bring adequate and affordable health care to our nation but we feel there is a competition,” he remarked.
Minister Nimrod hinted at some of the measures outlined by the committee in order for government to raise the funds to start the health insurance scheme.
“They have asked for instance, taxes on certain things that we have already done and we are very mindful of not over-taxing the population, that we would not do anything that would further burden the country (with) taxes – this is why this thing is open for discussion and we’re looking at other ways”, he said.
“…For instance, I think a proposal was made in terms of taxing cell phones, now that’s just a proposal and nothing has been accepted by the Cabinet as of now.”
According to the senior government minister, the committee has also proposed a tax on alcohol and tobacco to fund the insurance scheme.
“…We’ve already tap into that so this is what I mean when I say that the proposal in terms of raising revenue to finance this National Health Insurance is competing very keenly with what we have already done to increase our revenue to meet the requirements of the Structural Adjustment Programme,” he said.
Minister Nimrod pointed out that the National Health Insurance is something good for the country and should be pursued.
“Non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes, they wreak havoc on our people and cause serious medical difficulties and retard our economic growth because when people are that sick, they cannot produce, they cannot go to work and in most cases the burden is falling on the state so these things must be addressed…”, he said.
He added that access to adequate health care for any nation is a very important aspect in a civilised country.
The Minister said that the proposed National Health Insurance scheme will help bring help to people the kind of medical care that they might not be able to afford otherwise with regular insurance coverage and “we expect that in so doing, our people must feel protected in terms of having the means to get adequate health care”.