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Government of Jamaica

ADDRESS BY CEO,RAE BARRETT AT NHF MEDIA BREAKFAST

ADDRESS BY CEO,RAE BARRETT AT NHF MEDIA BREAKFAST

It was almost exactly a year ago, to the day, on October 28, 2004 that we invited the press to a luncheon to announce substantial increases in the NHF drug list and the first increase in NHF subsidies.

This morning I am indeed happy to on behalf of the Board and Management of the NHF to announce the details of an increase in the subsidy paid by the NHF, additions to the NHF drug list and for the first time the expansion of the NHF coverage outside of prescription drugs only with the introduction of subsidies for devices to assist individuals in the monitoring and management of diabetes.

When the NHF began operations, the subsidy offered averaged 35% of the cost of the reference price of the drugs on the NHF Drug List. Last October we increased the subsidy to approximately 50% of the reference price of the drugs. Effective November 1, 2005 the NHF will be increasing the subsidy for drugs on the NHF Drug List, to 80% of the reference price of the drugs. This increase will further reduce the burden of treating chronic diseases to NHF beneficiaries and their families.

As you may be aware the NHF pays a specific amount for the active ingredient regardless of the brand name of the drug.

The detailed list of NHF benefit items and the subsidy paid for each are detailed in the second edition of the NHF Individual Benefits Booklet. The publication of the first booklet, last year, was a resounding success. It is in high demand and has become a guide for all Beneficiaries who use it as a source of credible information on NHF benefits. The booklet is used by Beneficiaries in their interaction with their Health Providers in order to ensure that they obtain the best, most affordable drugs for themselves and that they receive the full benefits of their JADEP and NHF cards. We have no doubt that this second edition will have the same effect.

Revisions are made to the NHF drug list on an on-going basis and the NHF website will continue to be the most up-to-date source for all the drugs on the NHF list.

The NHF, in fulfilling our mandate to reduce the burden on the national healthcare system, has approved expansion of the NHFcard benefits from prescription drugs to supplies that assist persons with diabetes to better monitor and manage their condition. These supplies are

? test strips used to measure blood or urine sugar levels

? lancets for pricking the skin to obtain the droplet of blood

? syringes or needles used to administer insulin dosages

The NHF will provide a subsidy of 80% of the reference price for each item effective November 1. There will of course be annual limits for these items which are described in the NHF Individuals Benefits Booklet.

To use the test strips, patients need Glucometers to read the sugar level and, in the case of insulin delivery systems, Penfill applicators are used with needles to deliver the insulin dosage. I am pleased to announce that these devices will be offered free of charge to NHF beneficiaries by distributors/manufacturers.

Displayed in front are samples of each of these devices:

? The Prestige IQ glucometer kit from Qualcare

? The Precision Xtra glucometer kit from H.D. Hopwood

? The Novopen penfill applicator from H.D. Hopwood

? The EZ Smart glucometer kit from Carimed

? The One-Touch basic plus glucometer kit from Lasco

? The Accu-Chek glucometer kit from Inter- Commercial

? The Humopens penfill applicator from Medigrace

NHF beneficiaries will be allowed one of these devices every two years as the expected useful life exceeds this period. In the event of malfunction or other difficulty, Beneficiaries must contact the distributor for advice.

The process of acquiring a Penfill applicator or Glucometer is one that was worked out with the distributors of these devices. Firstly, the Beneficiary should seek advice from their medical doctor or pharmacist on the purpose and use of these devices and so decide on the specific device they wish to obtain. The NHF will not be involved in the decision making process.

Once the decision is taken the Beneficiary should then contact the NHF Customer Service Department and provide our representatives with their

1. Name

2. NHFcard number

3. The brand name of the device they wish to obtain and

4. A contact telephone number or address.

The NHF will validate that the Beneficiary is valid and enrolled for Diabetes and in the case of requests for the Penfill applicator that they are on insulin. Once the verification gives the green light the NHF will pass to the appropriate Distributor the Beneficiary?s name, contact number/address and the item requested. The distributor will contact the beneficiary and arrange for delivery of the item.

Our experience since last November, when the subsidy was increased and the first booklet published, has seen a significant increase in JADEP and NHF activity. Comparing September 2004 to September 2005 shows an increase in enrollment for the NHFcard from 48,430 to 65,051, an additional 16,621 persons or a 34% increase and for JADEP from 87,000 to 113,000 ? a 30% increase. It is interesting to note that JADEP enrolment represents over 40% of this age group in our population. In addition, the number of JADEP members using their cards moved from over 17,500 to approximately 29,500 in September this year and the number of persons using their NHFcard has tripled whilst the subsidy paid has quadrupled. Today, there are over 50,000 persons who are accessing individual benefits.

In closing I extend my thanks to our partners who have worked with us to make the NHF the success it has been so far. The healthcare providers, especially the 284 pharmacies we have contracted representing 90% of the 317 licensed pharmacies in the country, the Ministry of Health and, on this occasion, we acknowledge the co-operation received from the manufacturers and distributors who will be providing monitoring devices free of charge to NHF beneficiaries with diabetes. We look to the future for new partnerships that we will forge in reducing the burden of health care costs in Jamaica and to continuously improving our effort to ?Taking A Healthy Interest In You.?

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