by Linda Straker
- National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with Sustainable Development Goals 2030
- United Nations Development Programme funded NHI secretariat
- Projected cost could be more than EC$180 million a year
Grenada’s National Health Insurance (NHI) is said to be coming on stream in the early period of 2020, and government will be partnering with a US-based organisation which has sued the British Virgin Islands National Health Insurance agency in the implementation of a similar initiative.
“I can tell you, we are at a point now where I believe we can safely say that in the early period of next year we should be at a point where we can implement National Health Insurance,” Senator Chester Humphrey told the audience in a Government Parish Meeting held at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School last week Thursday.
“We have an implementing professional body that has a tremendous amount of experience in healthcare and a healthcare delivery system. It’s an organisation called JIPA. What is important about that is that JIPA has tremendous experience in the implementation of National Health Insurance. They have worked closely with the BVI, and interestingly enough, that organisation is headed by a Grenadian,” Humphrey said, explaining that National Health Insurance is a complex issue.
“When we began this journey, we did not understand how complex this issue was, but a lot of work has been undertaken, and a lot of work has been done in this regard. We have been able to get the services of the University of the West Indies; they played a significant role in helping us design this. We have had to rely on a division of the United Nations for initial funding” said Humphrey, who chaired the NHI Advisory Committee.
Grenada received US$653,916 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish the secretariat of the NHI and to undertake initial preparatory work.
The Joint Independent Provider Association otherwise called JIPA Network is headed by Dr Kester Nedd, a Grenadian from the parish of St Andrew who is a leading neurosurgeon in the state of Florida. Humphrey said that Nedd is working together with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and government to ensure the implementation over a period of 5 years.
JIPA signed a contract with the BVI NHI in 2015 and filed a lawsuit in 2017 for breach of contract. Under the contract, the BVI NHI was to be provided with access to JIPA’s already established network of healthcare providers throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the United States.
The BVI NHI was to pay JIPA each time they utilised healthcare providers within the JIPA network. JIPA is suing the BVI NHI management for alleged breach of contract. JIPA is reportedly alleging that the BVI NHI has bypassed it and has used the companies within its network without paying JIPA the agreed fee.
Roy Barry, Deputy Director of the Social Security Board with responsibility for BVI NHI, confirmed on Thursday that, “This matter is still in court and I will not comment to the media about it,” in a telephone conversation.
Though he disclosed that JIPA would be the implementing agency, Humphrey did not provide details about the arrangement in the meeting, “I don’t want to bore you with the details, but suffice to say that the projected cost could be, roughly, or it could be more depending on the model that is used, more than EC$180 million a year, so we are talking about an enormous amount of money,” he said.
The objectives of the NHI are:
- To improve access to and affordability of healthcare services for all Grenadians
- To improve the healthcare system which would lead to a healthier and more productive Grenada
- To protect individuals and families from financial hardships that can result from healthcare expenses
- To provide for a more equitable and sustainable method of financing health care
The decision of government to introduce a National Health Insurance plan is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.