Barbadians to start paying Health Service Levy
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn.
Healthcare standards in Barbados will be improved.
Affirmation of this came from Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn as he tabled the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment and Validation) Bill in the House of Assembly this morning.
Speaking to what he termed the "deterioration" of healthcare in the island, he lamented that this was done while taxes were collected to improve such services:
"Over the past few years, a lot of taxes were introduced under the guise of seeking to finance healthcare at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and on each and every one of those occasions Barbadians paid their taxes, and those monies never found their way to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
"To the point now where Barbadians witnessed what has become a deterioration of the services, not just at that institution but across the health care system."
Something he stressed his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government is seeking to correct by the introduction of the Health Service Contribution:
"This particular measure will take a little more out of people's paychecks - we acknowledge that - but fundamentally it is the provision of the services for the national good that is important."
The economist further stressed that this is not simply a financial remedy, but one that will improve the overall health of the island:
"We would have analyzed what would have been provided by the previous administration and we felt that the QEH specifically needed to have clarity with respect to their financing, such that the people of this country can assess the quality of healthcare that they've grown accustomed to.
"And so this Bill seeks not just to bring a measure of financial certainty to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but certainly, it demonstrates the importance healthcare plays in the development of a country."
Prime Minister Mia Mottley first announced the Health Service Contribution during the Mini Budget presentation on June 11.
She explained that the levy, which will be implemented through the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), will raise funds to help address the island's increasing health bill:
"Given the demographics of the Barbados population where there is a higher number of elderly persons than persons entering the workforce and given the significant increase in the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases, the cost of public health care continues to rise at an unsustainable rate."
Prime Minster Mottley added that it "is expected to raise $50 million in a full fiscal year".
"This will meet more than 25 per cent of the budget of the QEH and we will make amendments to the appropriate legislation to ensure that the NIS may forward the collected funds to the QEH directly for the purpose for which it has been collected."
That levy is retroactive from the beginning of October at a rate of 2.5 per cent, with employers paying 1.5 per cent and employees paying one per cent.
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