Since 2005, government has commissioned 19 different consultancies at a cost of $3,297,566 in connection with establishing the National Health Insurance programme that launched this year, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith said in the House of Assembly last Thursday.

Speaking on the final day of the HOA meeting that began Jan. 25 after lawmakers had passed the Higher Education Licensing Act, Dr. Smith was answering questions in the House on behalf of Health and Social Development Minister Ronnie Skelton, who was unable to attend the day’s meeting.

Contracts listed by the premier range from $1,500 for public relations to $984,084 for providing the software system for NHI.

Four of the contracts were with the University of the West Indies Health Economics Unit, totalling $1,346,374.

The first HEU contract was for a NHI feasibility study for $17,600 in 2005.

In 2006, the HEU designed the NHI system under one $585,100 contract, then provided unspecified “consultancy services” for the NHI system for $137,733.

More recently the HEU provided “professional consulting services for the completion of the design and implementation support of a national health insurance system in the VI” for $605,941, according to the document.

Mr. Skelton said at the September launch of NHI that the HEU consultancies were one of the programme’s strengths.

“We sought expert advice and took our time in designing the NHI model that would best suit the Virgin Islands population as a whole,” Mr. Skelton said at the time. “We have done the feasibility and actuarial studies; we have conducted thorough research and assessments; and we have developed a sustainable plan that fits our needs.”

One of the 19 consultancies was a $50,000 actuarial review by the Canadian firm Morneau Shepell. So far, government has declined to release this report to the public.

In response to a question from First District Representative Andrew Fahie, Dr. Smith said that $5.5 million has been placed into a National Health Insurance Fund held at Banco Popular in accordance with the Social Security Act.