By Clive Bacchus
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- St Kitts and Nevis is weighing options for universal health care.
Chief Medical officer Patrick Martin said the journey began in 1952 and explained on Thursday that currently there is universal coverage at the primary and secondary levels in the Federation, but not access to tertiary level.
Dr Patrick Martin
"We have universal coverage at the secondary level, meaning people have access to specialists either at the hospital or in private practice. Our current challenge is universal access to tertiary levels, meaning... radiation therapy, open heart surgery, neurosurgery and those other sub-specialties. For us in St Kitts and Nevis that requires travel outside the federation, and the cost of those subspecialty services runs into the tens to hundreds of thousands of US dollars,” he said.
Martin responded to a question about the coverage at the universal level.
"For universal health it's about access based on need, regardless of your pre-existing illness," he said.
"If universal health was to be conducted by the private insurance sector, the premiums would be exorbitantly high... it's the reason why government has to be a player in universal health."
So what’s the estimated cost of health care at all levels? The CMO said currently the secondary level of care being provided in St Kitts and Nevis costs about EC$2,300 per person.
"If we're going to go to universal coverage at all three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary, the calculations are that we're going to have to go to about EC$3,500, another $1,200 on top of the current level, or [another] $100 per month per resident per year."
Martin said options to fund universal health care are either that the government foots the entire bill, the cost is shared between the government and the individual, or the individual pays the full cost.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network