Should the no user fee policy at hospitals continue?

February 15th, 2012

There has been a recent dispute brewing about the no user fee policy at hospitals. Health minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson says that the government is not hastening to abolish the no-user fee policy. However, it is very obvious that the money problems that this policy creates is a major cause for concern.

One of the ideas being proposed to deal with this issue is a Government of Jamaica health card. This card will have a unique identification number which will allow health-care administration to decide who can or cannot pay for health services. Although Ferguson says that this does not mean that anyone will be turned away because of an inability to pay, there are still some who believe this is not the answer.

One critic of this idea is Opposition Leader Andrew Holness who states that “the most inefficient way of providing a public good is developing a bureaucracy to determine who can pay and who can’t.”

So, what is your opinion? Do you agree with Andrew Holness or do you think that the health card suggestion is worth looking into? Go ahead and have your say…

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26 Responses to “Should the no user fee policy at hospitals continue?”

  1. shell t robinson says:

    re:user fee: all who seeks health care should be able to access same for free,and to limit cost to the government,they should cut out pharmaceuticals and use herbal and natural remedies and bring in an alternative health care system based on wholistic medicine.
    peace,shell”t” robinson.usa,queens

  2. Jay Grey says:

    Free health care generally meant that the hospitals were also FREE OF DRUGS, FREE OF DOCTORS AND FREE OF NURSES. Those who can pay should pay. What’s the use of going to the hospital to just languish with out proper care or drugs?

  3. Bob says:

    Yes, you need a healthy society to be able to have a healthy economy!.

  4. Shellyb says:

    It is a very expensive venture for us to offer free health care. Every dollar counts. Each of us can contribute to the health sector.As long as they charge a fee that all can afford that’s fine with me.
    I suggest that they remove fees only for children, disabled and senior citizens.

  5. pablo says:

    The present policy of no user fee certainly needs to be restructured. Before this is done though the necessary consultation and collaboration with the relevant stake holders should be carried out.

  6. everald brown says:

    no it should not continue cuz when u go to hospital the doctors treat people like nobody

  7. Charline O says:


    I think there should be a review on the fees in Jamaica. For a stronger work force you need healthy people, you need fit people to generate and create wealth for the country, I think Jamaica is stuck in the past and have an attitude that everything America does it must do. Black people in Jamaica need help to prosper, as there is not security system out there why not provide a decent health system for all free of charge. A contribution should be put in place for this. Black people globally are the weakest in terms of financial status, if the government could do one thing to help their own people regarding the most basic of things, this would bring about change. There would be a stronger and healthy nation therefore the workforce would be stronger and healthier. Serivces could develop – apportioning out everything good and best in Jamaica to other races would no longer have to be the case, as your very own people would be able to prosper and deliver what others are always taking away from you.

  8. everyone should pay a fee says:

    everyone should pay a small fee to help with the cost of the so called free health care. most of the doctors and nurse in Jamaica are rude to the sick and if they think you are poor they think they have the right to abuse you. this is so sad. the sick should have a bill of rights and given a copy when they visit health centers. the first right should be … the right to be treated like a human even if you are poor and live in certain neighbourhood. the Jamaican health workers need retraining.

  9. Carmen McDuffus says:

    I think those who can pay should pay, especially those with their health cards. When Free health care was introduced the Health Care companies made milions of dollars from the health cards becasue persons did not utilize their cards. What should be done now is to charge a minimal fee especially for the services like x-ray, laboratory, surgery- at least this will help to ofset the cost of reagents and other supplies which are very costly.

  10. Mr. T says:

    I think there should be a fee for health care. There should be officers assigned (social workers) that assess an individuals ability to pay for health care and then special arrangements can be made to allow reduce fees or no fee for that individual.

  11. Greg says:

    It is important that we have the necessary resources to meet the need of our nation.
    By offering free health care for all is not the way.

    We need to do a research on the group of individuals most vulnerable and need real assistance.

    I believe health care should be free for persons over 65 years and children free until they reach 3 years old.

    There should be a system in place that assess individuals ability to pay for health care base on PAYE and they are give reduce fees on that basis.

    There must be a floor and ceiling for such a schedule.

    Any exception to this scheme an individual must apply to a body setup for such affairs and the application review to
    determine if individual qualify for exception.

    Individuals with training in social work should be involved in the assessment process.

    If applicant is successful this should be only for 1 year after which they must re-apply.

  12. Suzette lee says:

    This goes without saying. Healthcare should be free for all.
    There are private institutions for those who can afford to pay.
    I am really not interested in politics but I like good governance
    as such I am appalled as to how someone can lead a country
    who does not have a family structure. When one has children he or
    She will be more sensitive to their needs; understanding
    the need for healthcare and education. When a child is sick and
    Parents cant even find bus fare much less user fee the very
    Thought makes the whole family sick

  13. Healthcare should be free. The fact is, Jamaica is poor. Therefore, it should be free for children under a certain age and for elderly above a certain age. There is the possibility of corruption with the card. I don’t believe that it is transparent enough. Friends of friends will have it even when it is affordable to them. Deciding by age group is the most transparent way forward.

  14. Jo Bent says:

    I think the healthcare system should be computerized, there should be a $150 user fee
    to hospital, $80 for Clinics &50.00 for all
    meds collected on one day. This user fee should be waived for those who R disabled and seniors.
    In cases of emergencies accidents gunshots,
    etc the patient who has no fund at the time would receive treatment but billed to pay
    later ID by name TRN and DOB in the system;
    if not paid one could not get the meds at the drug serve for $50.00
    The resources R in place but many employees have sticky fingers & things find its way to their homes; from security to porter to nurses and other employees. I personally took someone to a hospital and overheard an employee brag that she sell the gloves to her friends that owns hair salon.This same person I took to the hospital have not been able to get none of her meds since Jan, now tell me if that’s not trifling
    and thievery? Then these same ppl blame the Govt. we have to put some of the blame on this
    society on a whole.
    This retiree I took to kph have got no meds N drugstore say they have none, she worked with the Govt 45 yrs; maybe the pharmaceutical companies stop send , someone decided not to stock no meds for now until user fees R in place, or employee R selling and giving to families & friends, but whatever the reason $500 fee is too much,and JA need to focus on wellness awareness in our communities
    staving off hypertension, diabetes cancer and
    other illnesses, that would be cheaper than treatments, hopefully the haves will understand
    the plights of the have nots as NO life is valuable than another. $150 should be the max and yes a user fee is needed to help,although it won’t improve the cold and rude workers the middle class (if there’s such) and poor endures in the day to day going ons of our public sectors employees treatments meted out anyway.

  15. Petrina says:

    Health care should remain free because it one of the taxable benefit which is accessible to all, now. The government must ensure that health care workers have the necessary resources needed and proper monitoring of its staffs and supplies. It can work if the government and health care workers do cooperate in the interest of Jamaican poor people. Rich people and some middle income earners do not go to public clinics and hospitals, they just do not have the time to wait.

  16. Yabbyyoo says:

    There should be NO user fee for healthcare…. I am sure that most of the people who support a user fee will not be attending KPH in person for treatment. The healthcare card suggestion is a total waste of time and money.

    There are some people who are barely able to afford the “BUS FARE” to get there much less pay a user fee.

    On more than one occasion I have woken up at 4:00am to take my helper to KPH (where we found a long line at 5:00am).

    Do you really think that people who can afford to pay, will join a queue before 5:00am in the morning!!!!

  17. JB says:

    When persons are being assessed by persons to determine if they are eligible for PATH some make sure to hide the little old fridge and some little things they have fearing they would be considered to have too much. The reality is persons who genuinely could not afford it were deemed ineligible hence any system would need to have pretty low standards so that who genuinely need it will be deemed eligible. A person who earns minimum wage should not be expected to pay the high price that healthcare really cost.

    Systems should be put in place to punish those nurses and doctors who discriminate against the Jamaican people they are the ones who make the system looks worse than it is. What the government needs to do is stop wasting the people’s money on (commissions of enquiry, succession planning for a party, paying people sums of money they don’t deserve, hold people accountable for misused funds and just stop robbing the people of Jamaica) this is the one of the few ways inwhich the poor benefit from the Gov don’t take it away from them. Please

  18. RENZO says:

    but a weh unnuh expect, di people
    dem busy a plan party fi si dem pitcha
    inna outlook an dress inna million $
    gown an tux, dem care if di peasants
    sick or get care, nah cah dem go a miami
    a doctor dem gone mek unnuh pay a user
    fee or go dead a bush, afta unnuh a noh
    fi dem family nor friend, everybady done
    kno seh dem woker deh a thief. ( mose a dm)

  19. Kenjam2 says:

    Set up a system that we know who is able to afford… and by all means they should pay… but I do believe that children under a certain age and the elderly shoud be able to access the health facilities free…………..

  20. jamjoint1 says:

    most persons who can pay often go to private hospitals and doctors. it is those who cannot pay that go to the public hospitals…in any case isn’t it unfair to ask the rich to foot the bill for the poor and for themselves?

  21. Tika says:

    A small user fee for those with

    jobs would help,middle income retiree

    uses the public healthcare system

    they have the time, is on fixed

    income, they take a lunch and book,

    meet up with others and talk about illnesses.

  22. Sonia says:

    Jamaica cannot afford Free Health Care or anythimg Free. If you need GOOD Health Care then people who can afford it should pay. I agree with Jamaica Health Insurance and everyone should contribute and be issued a health card. People who cannot afford it will be given a card by the government so they will also have health care. The money collected will be used ONLY to fund and improve the health care system and should not be used nor borrowed at any time for any other project no matter how much is sitting in the fund.

  23. Nia says:

    I believe that cost sharing could work. Many poor people cannot afford the full cost of education so it would be unthinkable to dump this burden on them. I don’t believe however that the government should shoulder all the costs . Both the government and the individual citizens should take a part of the burden

  24. Granny B says:

    I think that the government should start a Lottery were all the proceeds go towards health care and Education for the jamaican people. The majority of people would be contributing then!

  25. Nadine says:

    While it is a good notion, no first world country provides free health care so how is it that we can do it. When a surgical procedure is to be done, family members have to purchase much needed items such as the mesh to close stomachs cavities etc at a cost of 60000.00, or the surgery cannot be done. The cost to the patient if the family cannot purchase the much needed items if the family cant afford it… That is not FREE. When a patient is in hospital, family members are frequently given prescriptions to fill for basic medication to be administered during hospital stay. Patients who will remain immobile for significant periods require a special type of care, with the limited disgruntled amount of staff, these patients will not get the required care. The cost of that is usually the life of our loved ones. Come on people, we need to recognize that this free health care is costing us so much more than we bargained for. It cannot be free health care if the hospital are not equipped with the medical supplies, equipment and staff to provide said care. IT NUH FREE

  26. I’m very happy to read this. This is the kind of well written info that needs to be given and not the poor misinformation that is at the other blogs. I appreciate your sharing this…

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