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Phase I of National Prescription Drug Plan to benefit 35,000
By Matt Maura
Feb 11, 2010 - 1:30:39 PM

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Tami Francis, Project Manager for the National Prescription Drug Plan, (right) answers questions following a town meeting held in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Developers worked on The Plan for three years. (BIS photo/Patrick Hanna)

Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas - The National Prescription Drug Plan will provide free medications for 11 chronic, non-communicable diseases to 35,000 Bahamians in its initial stage, Tami Francis, Drug Plan Project Manager said Tuesday.

Mrs Francis said eight million dollars has been “set aside’ by officials of the National Insurance Board for Phase I of The Plan.

Addressing physicians and other healthcare professionals attending a mid-morning town meeting on the island of Abaco, Mrs Francis said The Plan will be rolled out in several phases by mid-2010 beginning with Phase I which will cater to NIB Pensioners (those persons currently receiving the Retirement Pension as well as the Old-Age Non-Contributory Pension); NIB Invalids (those persons receiving both the invalidity benefit as well as the assistance) and children under the age of 18 and young adults under the age of 25 who are full-time students.

The Second Phase of the Plan will cover NIB contributors (employed and self-employed persons); voluntary contributory persons; indigent groups not covered in the First Phase and persons in government institutions.

Phase I of The Plan will provide free medications to those persons qualifying as such. A rate of one per cent (half per cent employer; half per cent employer) will be added on to the current National Insurance contribution rate for those persons who are contributors.

NIB officials will coordinate benefits with private insurance companies for those persons who have private health insurance, while monies from a Government Grant will be used to assist those persons considered “indigent”.

Eleven of the major chronic, non-communicable diseases negatively impacting the quality of life for many Bahamians have been accounted for in The Plan. These include arthritis, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol, major depression, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, prostate cancer and psychosis.

Mrs Francis said in order for persons to benefit from Phase I of The Plan, they must fall within the first three groups, and their particular chronic, non-communicable disease must be certified by a registered medical practitioner.

She said 170 drugs used to combat the 11 chronic, non-communicable diseases will be available once The Plan is “rolled out”.

“The prescription drugs chosen by the Benefits Review Committee were selected based on effectiveness, safety, approval for use in Developed Countries and costs,” Mrs Francis said.

“The Committee also recommended maximum dosages and supplies per month so that doctors will be able to monitor compliance behaviour and ensure that persons are properly managing their conditions,” Mrs Francis added.

Mrs Francis said plan members will be presented with a booklet that will outline the Formulary (list of drugs) “so that when that person goes to the doctor and drugs are prescribed, patient and doctor would have access to the list of drugs available in The Plan.”

Mrs Francis said public and private pharmacies will be contracted as providers to the Pharmacy Network for The Plan. Private pharmacies, she said, will receive payment within seven days of the provision of services.

She said The Plan, administered by the National Insurance Board, will utilize a “strong” IT system to manage membership, drug stock flows, claims and timely payments and audits.

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