NHF, pri­vate phar­ma­cies to part­ner this month

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

BE­GIN­NING IN midDe­cem­ber, the Na­tional Health Fund (NHF) will be start­ing a pilot ex­er­cise in­volv­ing pri­vate phar­ma­cies to make drugs more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to ben­e­fi­cia­ries un­der the pro­gramme.

Chris Zacca, chair­man of the NHF, said the fund has been given the task to cut the wait­ing time by ben­e­fi­cia­ries for drugs. He told The Gleaner that the fund has been work­ing hard to roll out a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship where the pub­lic sec­tor-pre­scribed drugs could be ob­tained at pri­vate phar­ma­cies.

Zacca dis­closed that the pilot roll-out will take place in sev­eral phar­ma­cies in the Cross Roads, Kingston, area as well as May Pen in Claren­don. He said the trial ex­er­cise would be linked to spe­cific hos­pi­tal and clin­ics in the ar­eas men­tioned.

The NHF as­sists Ja­maicans in meet­ing the cost of pre­scrip­tions for spe­cific chronic ill­nesses.

Zacca con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that the 100 per cent in­crease in sub­sidy on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for NHF ben­e­fi­cia­ries took ef­fect in Septem­ber as an­nounced by Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton in his pre­sen­ta­tion to the Sec­toral De­bate, in July this year.


Ac­cord­ing to the NHF chair­man, the board has been re­ceiv­ing pos­i­tive feed­back from the par­ents of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. “The feed­back that we have got at the board is that it has gone very smoothly and is be­ing seen as a pos­i­tive move by our card­hold­ers,” he said.

Tufton had an­nounced that ef­fec­tive Septem­ber 1, some 11,000 NHF ben­e­fi­cia­ries 18 years and un­der would have ben­e­fited from a 100 per cent in­crease in sub­sidy on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals cov­ered un­der the pro­gramme.

The pre­vi­ous sub­sidy for the par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory of ben­e­fi­cia­ries av­er­ages about 40 per cent and cost the NHF ap­prox­i­mately $26 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

The move to an av­er­age sub­sidy of 80 per cent is pro­jected to cost the NHF in the re­gion of $70 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

“The im­pact of this on the 10,850 NHF ben­e­fi­cia­ries in this age group is sig­nif­i­cant as it will re­duce the out-of-pocket ex­pen­di­ture and as­sist in broad­en­ing ac­cess to vi­tal medicines,” Tufton had said in his pre­sen­ta­tion.

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