It was interesting to note that in the Standing Finance Committee it is being suggested that people who do not have to contribute to the National Health Insurance fund, but who are eligible for treatment, should be restricted to public health facilities and should not get reimbursed for private treatment. This would apply to those under 16 and over 65 years of age.
I had wondered about this at the inception of NHI, and then I thought of the situation in the United Kingdom when the National Health Service was introduced in the 1940s. On the day of inauguration there would have been millions of youngsters and seniors suddenly eligible for free health care. Of course the millions of working people’s contributions paid for their treatment, and the UK government had much bigger pockets than the Virgin Islands’. This is not to say that the NHS has not been steadily falling more and more into debt and requiring interventions from central government funds.
Turning to NHI, I can give one small example of where it is going to get in trouble. Youngsters won’t know this, but once you reach 70 years of age you have to renew your driving licence annually, and you need a new medical certificate each time. Before NHI you could get a free medical at a government clinic, or pay $60 for a private examination. Your licence costs either $15, or $75 per year. Since NHI was implemented, it appears that all private medical facilities have upped their rates. So now you can still get a free medical at a government clinic, but a private exam will cost you $160. Under co-pay you pay just $16, the government (NHI) paying the balance of $144, and that is every year, and you pay just $31. Remember, as a senior you are not contributing to the scheme.
To quote the minister of communications and works, “That make sense?” I think not.