Residents who have been working temporary or provisional jobs since the hurricanes are struggling to access healthcare.
BVI News understands that this is partly because their employers are not making the compulsory National Health Insurance (NHI) payments.
Under the law, employers are required to pay 7.5 percent of each workers’ salary over to the NHI. Half of that amount comes from the employee’s pay, and the employer is required to pay the other half (3.75 percent).
But, since the hurricanes, a considerable number of employers reportedly have not been paying NHI for temporary workers.
As a result, it is now being said that some healthcare providers are not accepting NHI cards that are behind on payments.
While speaking at a public meeting in Carrot Bay this week, one resident claimed that she is among persons who have been turned away at the state-owned Peebles Hospital.
“Nobody (employers) is looking to pay NHI [and] nobody is looking to pay Social Security for you. So when you go to the hospital they are saying to you ‘your card is blocked’.
The resident further explained that unemployed residents are desperate for jobs and can’t afford to turn down potential employment simply because employers aren’t offering to pay NHI.
She said: “When people are looking work they aren’t asking ‘will you pay my NHI?’ They aren’t asking ‘will you pay my Social Security?’ They are asking ‘can I have money to take home to feed my family?’ So, why are they (healthcare providers) being so hard on everybody when they see that we have gone through a hurricane?”
While responding to the report, Health Minister Ronnie Skelton made it clear that no resident should be turned away from the public health facility.
“If you go to the hospital and there is a problem, you should not be denied care for whatever reason. I know when you get to the cashiers, they tell you that its based on the instructions they are given… But no one should be denied the care that they need whether they can afford to pay or not,” the Minister said.
He further called on residents to report instances where persons are denied care so he can rectify those issues.
“If I am aware of these cases, I can fix some of this stuff,” he said.