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Health Ministry addresses concerns about increased hospital user fees

Friday, August 17, 2018

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THE Ministry of Health yesterday sought to address concerns regarding increased user fees at public hospitals, assuring the public that the Government's no-user-fee policy for public patients without insurance remains in effect.

In a release, the ministry further advised that recent increases in public hospital user fees are only applicable to private patients; patients with insurance; and non-residents.

A 'private patient' according to the ministry, is any patient who is paying a specifically named doctor or dentist in a public hospital for private services. This is reflected in the ministry's Guidelines on Private Practice in the Government Health Services 2013, which also states that “any patient referred to the institution — and not a particular doctor — should be assumed to be public unless otherwise stated”.

'Patients with insurance', the release continued, are those who have health insurance that covers all or a portion of the public hospital services they require. The ministry said for such patients, only the amount payable by the insurance company is applicable and there is no charge payable directly by the patient to the hospital.

'Non-residents' are those individuals who do not live in Jamaica, the release said.

“Jamaicans who do not fall within the named categories will continue to access public health services without charge. This is in keeping with the policy that abolished user fees for public health facilities in 2008,” the ministry said.

The increases, which took effect August 1, were previously approved by Cabinet and gazetted in the National Health Services (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2016.

The full schedule of increases are contained in the Regulations, which the release said can be accessed through the Government Printing Office, the Ministry of Health's four regional health authorities and/or any local public hospital.

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