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Federation Weighing Options For Universal Health Care

CMO Dr. Patrick Martin

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  St. Kitts and Nevis is weighing options for universal health care. 

Chief Medical officer Patrick Martin says the journey began since 1952 and explained Thursday, that currently there is universal coverage at the primary and secondary levels in the Federation, but not access to tertiary level.

"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."

A guest on the Breakfast Show Thursday, Dr. 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 $2300 EC per person per month.

"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 $3500 EC, another $1200 on top of the current level, or [another] $100 per month per resident per year."

Dr. 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.

 

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