SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Tuesday, 15 June 2021, the Party for Progress faction submitted a letter to Minister of VSA Omar Ottley, appealing to him to request an advice from the GVS Committee regarding adding contraceptive methods (primarily birth control pills and intra-uterine devices (IUDs)) to the coverage list for health insurers.
In their letter, the faction explained that early this year, they began research into the possibility of amending the national ordinance that governs SZV. The goal, the faction shared, was to identify whether or not contraceptive methods were covered by the insurer and, if not, what was the best way forward with adding contraception to the coverage list.
In their letter to Minister Ottley, the faction states that as medical research has expanded, the use of contraceptives has grown to include treating irregular menstrual cycles, painful cramps, acne and, most importantly to them, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Both these conditions can hamper a woman’s ability to lead a normal, active and healthy life.
“PCOS, while it affects women of all races and ethnicities, impacts black and brown women in different ways,” Gumbs stated. “Endometriosis is its own beast; many women go undiagnosed or receive an incorrect diagnosis of what can start off as severe pelvic pain and grow into a more serious issue. Both conditions’ symptoms can be managed with access to contraceptive methods such as the birth control pill and IUDs.”
The faction’s letter continued to explain that in Sint Maarten, birth control is an over-the-counter item but in some instances, there is a medical need for it. However, the health insurance provider doesn’t cover the cost. PFP’s research into the national ordinance on Health Insurance revealed that health insurance providers only cover substances considered “medication”; however, contraception is considered an “aiding” substance but not medication. PFP expressed that at this point, it became clear that new or changed legislation was not necessary, since the GVS Committee exists to handle the review, addition and/or removal of substances to the coverage list for health insurance providers.
“The GVS Committee was created in 2018 in accordance with article 20 of the National Decree for the Reimbursement of Costs of Pharmaceuticals,” the faction states. “Its tasks are to review any requests to amend the annex attached to the same decree. That annex includes a list of all medication that is and is not covered by SZV. In our letter, we also included medical information regarding the risks and symptoms of PCOS and endometriosis, the types of contraception commonly recommended to women, as well as data regarding accessibility of contraceptive methods for women in Latin America and the Caribbean, to support him in his request to the GVS Committee.”
It is PFP’s goal that their letter to the Minister of VSA be a first step on the road towards making access to contraception accessible for all women in the country and plan to follow up with their request after Parliament’s annual summer recess.
PFP MP Raeyhon A. Peterson