Peebles Hospital: Free Health Care Categories Tweaked

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Chairman of the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA), Bishop John Cline and CEO of the BVI Health Services Authority, Mrs. Darlene Carty Baptiste confirmed that the public servants who were previously exempted for prescription and service at Peebles Hospital will now have to pay.

Previously under the Public Hospital Ordinance (Cap 195) free treatment was provided to persons age 65 and older, school children (legally anyone under the age of 16), police officers, firemen, prison officers, public health workers, the mentally ill, indigent persons and prisoners.

However during a press conference held on 15 January the BVIHSA CEO Cline confirmed the change of policy saying: “The categories have been re-established, so there is 65 years and older, indigents, wards of the state, and persons under the reciprocal health agreement contract, prisoners and dependent children; all other categories are no longer considered exempt.”

In explaining the change, the BVIHSA Chairman said: “All government employees are covered under insurance policy—Bupa. The way it was before is, they had insurance, but it was never used in our facility; because of this exemption. We think it is a bit unfair that people have an insurance, go overseas. We are exporting the money. But when they come to this facility where we are providing a service they have no obligations to pay. That has changed.”

Mr. Cline announced: “As long as you have insurance you are expected to present your insurance card and the insurer will then become the payer.”

The issue of public servants exemptions and insurance was discussed by Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton during the questions and answers section of the House of Assembly on 17 April, 2014.

The Health Minister told the House: “80 percent of the cost at Peebles Hospital right now is exempt. There is only a 20 percent revenue stream as we speak. The majority of the monies comes from the Government to run the system. Before we had insurance in this country we gave people benefits – the police, the prison, 65 years and over, all children, the indigents, all of these people are exempt at Peebles from medication and accessing service.”

Hon. Skelton stated that in addition to the exemption groups such as the police, and the prison were given medical insurance, but efforts were not made to address the point that insurance should pay for the cost of them accessing care at Peebles.

“Madame Speaker with the introduction of the National Health Insurance government will continue covering of subsidy for the indigents and those people who cannot afford to pay. All of those people who government have exempted the deductible is supposed to be paid; so there will still be some level of subsidy for people,” he announced on 17 April 2014.

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