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Aug 8, 2007

Financing for N.H.I. still not finalised

Story PictureAnd while those board members strive to do the right thing, their skills will be tested by the financial pressures of the expanded National Health Insurance. N.H.I. rolls out nationwide in January and that will cost money. And while politicians can make promises, ultimately someone has got to write a cheque. Doctor Ramon Figueroa is the Social Security Board’s point man on N.H.I. and he says they’re still crunching the numbers.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, Director for N.H.I. Division, S.S.B.
“Social Security has taken on basically the brunt of the financial burden or the investment; I would prefer to call it that way. Over the past year and this present year, it’s been a joint financing between Government, Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health has transferred some of the funds that they use for the primary care, basically primary care package of services which N.H.I. is covering right now, and Social Security is also investing this year, eleven million dollars into the N.H.I. fund. So in total it would be fifteen million, so based on the actuarial recommendation, it shouldn’t be more than that. It shouldn’t go beyond that and I know the board, the Social Security Board is adamant about not using anymore money from Social Security sources, but again at the end of the day that’s a government decision.”

James Cerconi, Health Economist
“Always the best case scenario would have been that S.S.B. would have a payroll scheme as Dr. Figueroa mentioned, where everybody is contributing a certain percentage of their income and the government kind of covers the difference, but in reality the trend internationally is actually going the other direction and more and more countries are getting away from the payroll contributions and going towards government financed programmes. So I think Belize may actually, may in the end be ahead of the curve in terms of designing a new financing system for N.H.I.”

Dr. Ramon Figueroa
“Obviously this is not a system where we hold a whip and lash people because they don’t do something. We are a small country, limited resources, so we work in a partnership. So we sit down with them, look at what our weaknesses are, and see how best we can institute measures to improve healthcare service to the people. So yes, the answer is yes, I think we’ve achieved a significant value for the money that we’ve invested, obviously there’s still room for improvement and that’s what we seek to do. … What we seek to do is establish a system of health care in the country that provides quality services for the people of this country.”

According to Figueroa, among the N.H.I.’s accomplishments is a set standard of care for providers as well as a transparent list of available services to the public. The S.S.B. is also encouraging anyone who is currently using to system to make recommendations to administrators.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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