Medical providers can charge patients whatever they want- Barry
Therefore, medical providers in the Virgin Islands (VI) can “charge [patients] whatever they want,” according to the Deputy Director of the BVI Social Security Board with special responsibilities for the NHI implementation, Mr Roy E. Barry.
The Deputy Director was at the time testifying before the 2017 Standing Finance Committee as it deliberated the 2017 Budget. Mr Barry advised the Committee that at the inception of the NHI programme, it was recommended by the Government that providers not be allowed to charge more than 5% above the fee schedule set by the NHI which they labeled “balance billing”.
Medical providers don’t want price control
This proposal was rejected by the medical providers, according to Mr Barry, and now they can charge patients whatever they choose to with no laws in place in the Territory to prevent them from doing otherwise.
When asked by the former Opposition Leader Hon Julian Fraser RA, (R3) for Mr Barry to clarify his statement to the Standing Finance Committee (SFC), the Deputy Director stated, “that there was no legislation to mandate the prices, but an attempt was made to control the market. However, once that failed they had no authority to implement anything further.”
To this, Hon Fraser asked if they allowed patients to go overseas, if that could work “without any legislation?” Mr Barry stated in his response that “it had been difficult to try and force the providers when they were not in agreement with what they were trying to achieve, especially when they had a shortage in some of the services.”
Profit up after NHI
It was also stated that even without the requested maximum of 5% government presented to the medical providers in which they can charge above the proposed rate, medical providers can still make a decent profit without the maximum 5% by just relying on the rate sheet provided by the NHI programme.
It was on November 7, 2016 that our newsroom published a list from the House of Assembly in an answer to a question on how much monies were made by providers for the first eight months of 2016.