Medicare offers free prescription

By Diedre Fanene ,

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PROPOSING A MEDICARE SCHEME: Afualo Dr. Wood Uti Salele with his wife Rose Salele.

PROPOSING A MEDICARE SCHEME: Afualo Dr. Wood Uti Salele with his wife Rose Salele.

The Tautua Samoa Party is serious about setting up a Medicare Insurance Scheme if they win the elections. The scheme is among several campaign points being promoted by the Party ahead of the General Elections in March.

The Party’s Shadow Minister of Finance, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, said that although the government already has a policy for children and pensioners to obtain free medical treatment, it is not enough.

 “At the moment the Prime Minister is saying that children 14 years and under are getting free medical treatment and that is okay,” he said.

“But what we are saying is that it’s only when they go to see the doctor that is free but when they go to get their prescription they have to pay for it. Prescriptions are more expensive than seeing the doctor.

 “So instead of children 14 years old and under seeing the doctor for free, this plan will not discriminate because it will target patients 15 to 64 years old.”

Afualo said nobody will miss out with the proposed scheme.

“Everyone will get a fair go in making sure that they get the treatment of their choice because once people have this, then they reveive a Medicare Card and they will be instantly looked after because the funding will be there.

“[And] then the patient will choose if they want to use the public service which the government will provide through the national hospital then that’s fine with me.

“But with Medicare, this will give a patient an option to choose to go and see a private doctor because they can afford it now.

“So there will be competition between the National Health Care services and the private sector.”

The scheme is also designed to solve the issue of waiting times at the hospital.

 “People sit there for many hours. That is because they are stuck in the mud. The current government policy caters only to patients one to 14 years old and the rest will have to pay.

“So the morality is just not right. It doesn’t do justice, particularly to those who have low income and cannot afford it. With Medicare, it will cover all those who cannot afford health care and the patient will be able to choose which service to utilize.” Another part of the Medicare Scheme is Medical Insurance.

“There’s about 24,000 registered employees and this is the latest number of employees in Samoa,” he said.

“If we setup a Medicare Insurance Scheme, we will make sure that all the employees get a medical insurance policy.

“We are looking at setting up a few financial insurance services because they will be the providers of the funds and the agreement will be between the employee, the employer and the policy provider.

“For example $10 tala will be deducted from the employees pay and will go into the employee’s policy. The insurance company can make policy offers but the employee will have to shop around with the employer on what is best for them.

“Once people setup a medical insurance policy it is an agreement between the employee, the employer and the policy providers.

“[And] that depends because it varies. If you want to deduct $2-$3 tala, that is for them to decide because many do not get sick throughout the whole year. So suppose $5 tala is being deducted and if the employer is willing to put in $1 that is up to them.

“But from my understanding a lot of employers do this. 

“They put in something and the employees put in something as well and that becomes their medical insurance policy.

“So suppose it comes down to $10 tala per fortnight so that is about $20tala a month and then multiply that by 12 and that is over $1,000 tala.

“But if you don’t get sick throughout the year because that is a possibility, then that is where the policy folds up because you have an agreement. You either continue with your investment or get a refund if you don’t get sick.

 “So given this medical insurance this eases out the budget from the $10 million tala and now the responsibility is with the insurance company to pay for it.”

 

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