Minister Lee: All Sint Maarten residents should have access to health insurance

Minister of VSA Emil Lee is asking residents to become more engaged with the Ministry and participate in the upcoming opportunities for stakeholder consultations on the topic of General Health Insurance and the implications for Sint Maarten. The Ministry has not yet received any interest from community stakeholders to discuss the topic with VSA and PAHO representatives. Minister Lee commented that the Ministry of VSA welcomes open dialogue with constructive criticism on the topic, and encourages the community to make use of these opportunities to get informed.

Universal Health Insurance is an international concept, summarized; the World Health Organization defines it as: providing access to all the members of society to health care without creating financial hardship. This desire to ensure that all members of the population have health insurance and therefore have access to health care is a concept that dates back to Island Council days. “Way before 10-10-10. It is a concept that was already in progress and that I inherited when becoming Minister in 2015 and a concept that the Ministry supports.”

In 2015, preliminary draft legislations were already in progress, then the concept was named NHI – National Health Insurance. With extensive research, local and regional stakeholder consultations, over the years, the draft legislation has “dramatically” evolved and is now named GHI – General Health Insurance. The fundamental principle remains the same: that everyone should have access to health care in order to do that; they need to have health insurance, which provides them the finances to access that health care. “What we have today is very different than what we had when we started.”
“While discussions and opinions are being shared, it is important that these conversations are constructive in nature. In essence, when we are having the discussion in Parliament of can we afford it or not. The question actually becomes, what legislation are we actually looking at? With these questions, I see that we have to do a better job at explaining that our current financial system for health care is not working. Continuing with what we have now is not an option. The expenses of our health care system is burdening government. If this is not the solution, provide an alternate solution – not just a no because our current system cannot continue as it is.”

The draft legislation for GHI has been reviewed by the Social Economic Council (SER) and is currently under review by the Council of Advice. Hereafter the draft legislation will be submitted to Parliament. Persons who are interested in hosting or having a community or group stakeholder consultation with the Ministry of VSA and the PAHO representatives can contact the Department of Public Health via e-mail: Lu***********@si************.org or via phone: 5202767.