SABA–The decision made by Health Insurance Office ZVK to start with direct charter flights from Saba to St. Maarten and vice versa as of March 4 stems from grievances filed by both insured clients, as well as medical practitioners in Saba and St. Maarten regarding the frequently occurring situation of non-availability of seats on airline WINAIR. ZVK said it will continue using WINAIR for travels via St. Maarten to Curaçao and beyond.
“This caused too much discomfort for our clients after having been referred for medical consultation and treatment on St. Maarten and beyond,” ZVK stated.
Last year, WINAIR adapted its flight schedule between the islands in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, resulting in a significant reduction of seats available on flights to and from St. Maarten. This discomfort often led to unnecessary stay-overs for ZVK clients whilst the hotel capacity in St. Maarten is still not optimal. Subsequently, the restricted availability of seats presented a serious planning problem for the referring to medical practitioners as ZVK was unable to schedule appointments abroad for its clients in an efficient manner.
Another consideration which also led to our decision to implement these charter flights is because certain insured individuals, because of their physical limitations, cannot board and disembark comfortably on the aircraft provided by WINAIR.
Since September 2018, ZVK has been in close consultation regarding these discomforts with the board and medical practitioners of Saba Health Care Foundation, as well as with members of the Executive Council and community leaders of Saba.
Regarding the issue of ground transportation, the pick-up service provided by Accessible Ventures for all insured to and from treatment centres in St. Maarten and/or to and from the airport in case of medical referrals abroad, was implemented as a “temporary measure” in the direct aftermath of the hurricanes.
In accordance with the provision of claims for healthcare BES (“Regeling Aanspraken Zorg BES”), insured individuals are entitled to ground transportation if they qualify given the need and appropriate provision for care.
In other words, it is their medical practitioner who may request for special transport and with ZVK’s prior approval. In addition to this, all insured travelling off Saba on medical referral receive an allowance of US $30 to cover their expenses for transportation to and from Saba’s airport.
ZVK said its Saba office has been communicating this policy adaptation to insured clients. “They and the Saban community in general can be assured that ZVK is constantly monitoring its operations and – if and when necessary – adapting these with the steady intention to provide an efficient healthcare service for all insured clients on Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius,” ZVK stated.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85851-zvk-implements-charter-saba-st-maarten-flights