Jamaica Healthcare Cost Spiraling Into Billions Of Dollars

According to Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, the spiraling cost of healthcare is a challenge facing Jamaica that needs to be addressed now if the country is to adequately meet the healthcare needs of its people in the future.

The Minister noted that a close look at the National Health Fund (NHF) budget shows that costs have escalated by 139 percent ($4.6 billion in financial year 2015/16 to $15 billion in financial year 2021/22, adjusted for COVID-19).

He said that projections for the next three years suggest further increases of approximately 30 percent.

“At this rate of demand and cost increases to treat over 720,000 Jamaican served by the NHF, this critical entity will need approximately $40 billion over the next three years or risk being unable to address the needs of Jamaicans suffering from some sort of illness,” Dr. Tufton said.

In 2020/2021, the NHF spent $1.27 billion on hypertension compared to $940 million over the 2014/2015 period. In 2020/2021, the organization spent $1.41 billion on diabetes compared to $887 million in 2014/2015.

This is a 59 percent increase.

Over the 2020/2021 period, Jamaicans spent $2.38 billion in NHF co-payments on drugs to treat high blood pressure compared to $1.46 billion for the 2014/2015 period.

“This is a 62 per cent increase. Jamaicans also spent a staggering $1.57 billion on drugs for diabetes for the 2020/2021 period when compared to $862.82 million for the 2014/2015 period. This represents an 82.6 per cent increase,” Dr. Tufton stated.

He noted that healthcare is not free. “We all pay, one way or the other. The question is how and how much. It is an issue we must tackle frontally in the coming years,” the Minister said.

“It is time to restructure the health system to achieve a more sustainable financing mechanism and to do so in a way that ensures efficiency and accountability of existing expenditure as well as a greater proportional contribution to reflect the increased demands on the system. We also need to determine how this restructured health system is to be financed,” Dr. Tufton added.

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Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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