According to Barry who appeared before the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) during budget deliberations late last year, the difference in copay fees is not a result of NHI.
The Deputy Director made the assertion after Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Shereen Flax-Charles, said copay is higher when using NHI versus private insurance. She had also noted that it is a change she supports and for which she would lobby.
The junior minister further said the services at BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) are often higher than at private facilities, which would affect public confidence as the cost is also an issue, especially for accessing services on Virgin Gorda.
But Barry told the SFC that NHI utilises a Usual and Customary Rate (UCR) fee schedule, a set payment that NHI would disperse to medical facilities.
He further advised that a variation is passed to the public as private facilities can balance the bill.
Barry related that the NHI’s UCR fee is lower than what private insurance providers cover, hence the difference in copay.
Meanwhile, Flax-Charles stated during the SFC meeting that she received several complaints, including questions on why the unemployed must continue paying contributions without income.
However, the Deputy Director explained that once a person becomes unemployed, they should contact NHI to agree on a way forward, whether to agree to pay as a voluntary contributor with the option of a decreased contribution or apply for indigence.
Flax-Charles expressed that there should be a public campaign on matters related to NHI as many members of the populace do not understand the requirements.
She suggested an educational campaign targeting the different age groups within the territory.