PHILIPSBURG–Social and Health Insurances SZV will no longer be sending patients to the Dominican Republic for general medical referrals as of April 2, according to the organisation over the weekend. Referrals to the Dominican Republic will only continue for specific specialties, emergency and trauma cases to the contracted hospitals in the Dominican Republic.
These specialties and emergency cases include cornea transplant, retina detachment, emergency trauma, emergency neonatology, emergency obstetrics, emergency neurosurgery, emergency cardiology and major trauma cases.
The decision is a cost- saving measure. SZV estimates a reduction of 80-85 per cent in referrals to the Dominican Republic. About 1,000 patients are referred to the Dominican Republic per year, at least once.
According to SZV, the average referral to this destination costs about NAf. 16,000 per patient per trip. SZV has ascertained that the quality and type of medical services needed are also available in other destinations where SZV has care contracts, such as Colombia. The care contracts with the hospitals in the Dominican Republic will remain for the specific specialties and emergency/trauma cases.
The decision to decrease referrals to the Dominican Republic may change in the future, as the procedure for medical referrals abroad is currently being reviewed for re-structuring. Part of the restructuring includes a tender process to contract health care providers in the region based on updated indicators such as cost, logistics, service and quality. The medical referrals process on the whole, from beginning to end is being reviewed by the tripartite committee of SZV consultant Grant Thornton, St. Maarten Medical Centre (SMMC), and the Health Ministry.
For patients who have a follow-up plan for medical care in the Dominican Republic, these cases will be reviewed individually. The premise remains that patients are able to receive the medical care they require when it is not available in St. Maarten. Patients will gradually be referred to a new destination to continue their follow-up treatment plans.
Together with the hospitals in the Dominican Republic, the specialists and house doctors in St. Maarten, it will be ensured that the relevant medical history is available to support the patients’ transition.
The general procedure for requesting a medical referral abroad will not change. In emergency and trauma cases, SMMC and its specialists handle the referral request procedure. The SZV referrals procedure includes a mandatory intake procedure that all patients and companions travelling abroad must undergo.
The referral process, the destination and the services of the international office that will be the direct contact when abroad are explained to patients during the intake process at SZV. SZV patients who refuse a referral abroad must do so in writing and will be responsible for the medical cost on their own. The right remains to submit a reimbursement request, but, this is subject to approval, with limitations, according to SZV.
Information about the referrals abroad procedure is available on the website