PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee on Wednesday presented a brief synopsis of one of the shortcomings of the current health care system in the country.
He said many people in the community who have financial challenges and cannot afford their health care cost by law can go to Government for medical aid assistance. He said that in essence, this is a form of universal health insurance. However, this system is based on outdated legislation and not well organised, efficient or cost-effective.
“Our goal as a ministry is to reorganise how we finance our health care system, making sure that it’s sustainable. We operate from a basic fundamental belief that access to health care is a basic human right. Too many people have issues accessing proper health insurance. If you can’t access health insurance that means you have a problem accessing health care or it causes a big financial burden to you,” Lee said.
There is no dispute by government or social and health insurance provider SZV that there are structural and fundamental issues with the current health care system. “The financial issues of the current system are from even before 10-10-10.”
The shortcomings of the current health care system end up coming back to government. A practical example of this is the following:
“In a car accident where the passenger was injured; the driver’s vehicle insurance covers only up to NAf. 90,000, for medical expenses for passengers, but the actual medical cost exceeded the NAf. 90,000. Government then receives a call from the car insurance company and is called to step in for the remainder of the medical cost or the passenger would be left without medical care.”
Lee said the VSA Ministry will be hosting and facilitating community stakeholder consultations in the coming months on the topic of general health insurance as part of the national health reform plans. The Ministry has requested the support of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to host the sessions. This third-party organisation has a wealth of knowledge and experience on the implementation and implications of universal health insurance in the region.
“As a community, when we discuss, do we want to have some form of a general health insurance? We need to agree on certain basic principles as we go forward in these discussions,” Lee said.
“We want it to be financially sustainable – we know that our current system is not. We want the contributions to be equitable – everyone should contribute their fair share. Every resident should have access to health care or access to health insurance, and if not, then we decide that as a community we stand there and watch that this person gets no access to health care. Is this the type of community we want to live in?”
Lee pointed out that when making the comparison of the implementation of universal health insurance in Aruba and Curaçao, there is criticism that the model is not financially sustainability on those islands.
Representatives of the health care sector of Aruba and Curaçao have been invited to take part in the local stakeholder consultations on general health insurance to give insight and share the experiences directly as part of the discussions.
Persons interested in participating in the stakeholder consultations can contact the Cabinet of the Ministry at tel. 520-2767.