11 March 2008
Today, Social Security Minister, Senator Paul Routier, announced additional transitional arrangements through Income Support for the payment of general practitioner (GP) services.
The Introduction of the Income Support scheme on 28 January 2008 saw the replacement of a number of benefits, one of which was Health Insurance Exception (HIE) which subsidised the cost of visiting GP’s and prescriptions. The Minister has already approved free prescriptions which have been available to all Islanders from 1 February 2008 .
Income Support provides a direct payment to a Household which includes assistance for the payment of doctors’ fees. To help people budget for their doctor’s bills, a savings scheme – the Household Medical Account (HMA) – was introduced to allow families to save some of their Income Support each week. HMA accounts have been set up for previous HIE recipients who are within the Income Support system and it allows them to continue to visit their GP safe in the knowledge that when they are ill, money is there to pay the bills.
The HMA facility is now being extended to former HIE recipients, who were in receipt of HIE on
27 January 2008 and have applied for Income Support, by the introduction of a further Protected Payment. Protected Payments were introduced as a way to help people transferring from the old system to Income Support.
Senator Paul Routier, said “I wish to reassure people that, anyone previously on HIE who has applied for Income Support, can still access their GP. This additional Protected Payment, which covers up to four visits to the doctor per year for each member of the household, will be paid into an HMA account.
People with genuine medical need who may need more than four visits may also get additional help through the special payment system”.
The Department will be writing to families who qualify for this additional Protected Payment over the next two weeks to further clarify their position. The Department is also in regular contact with the Island ’s General Practitioners and advises which of their patients has an HMA. Senator Routier added “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the GPs and their staff who have been supportive during this time of change and continue to work with the Department to ensure individuals are appropriately supported in accessing healthcare”.