Health Ministry quiets concerns over increased hospital user fees

The Ministry of Health, in addressing concerns raised regarding increased user fees at public hospitals, is assuring the public that the government’s no user fee policy for public patients without insurance remains in effect.

The Ministry is further advising the public that recent increases in public hospital user fees are only applicable to the following categories of users:

• Private patients;
• Patients with insurance; and
• Non-residents.

A ‘private patient’ 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’ are those who have health insurance that covers all or a portion of the public hospital services they require. 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 persons who do not live in Jamaica.

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 increases, which became effective on 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 can be accessed through the Government Printing Office, the Ministry of Health’s four regional health authorities and/or any local public hospital.