CAL birth prompts investigation

The Health Insurance Commission will investigate the circumstances surrounding why a pregnant woman whose water had broken felt it necessary to fly to Jamaica to have her baby.

Mervyn Conolly

Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly. Photo: File

Shellesha Woodstock, the 19-year-old Jamaican woman who gave birth on a Cayman Airways flight to Kingston last week, would have been covered for child birth if she had a valid Cayman Islands health insurance policy, said Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly.

‘The employee is covered even under the standard health insurance contract,’ he said. ‘This is compulsory and this is the minimum required by law.’

Ms Woodstock has claimed she was told by a Health Services Authority nurse at the Cayman Islands Hospital that her insurance only covered her, not her baby, and that it would be too expensive for her to have her child here. The nurse and an HSA doctor both recommended Ms Woodstock go to Jamaica to have her child, she claimed.

Based on that information and recommendation, Ms Woodstock and her partner travelled to Kingston on Tuesday despite the fact that her water had already broken and that she was 29 1/2 weeks pregnant.

No only is hospitalisation for child birth covered by the Standard Health Insurance Contract, so is post-natal care for a newly born dependent child for a period of 30 days after birth, Mr. Conolly pointed out.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Health Services Authority said Ms Woodstock chose to travel to Jamaica to deliver her child. However Ms Woodstock said she always intended to deliver the child here in the Cayman Islands and would not have gone to Jamaica unless she had not been advised to by the nurse and doctor.

‘I didn’t plan to come to Jamaica,’ she said Friday.

Ms Woodstock, who is employed as a domestic helper, had health insurance through British American Insurance located at the Dot Com Centre she said, adding that the premiums were deducted from her pay by her employer.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson confirmed Ms Woodstock had a valid work permit, but said he was not at liberty to say who her employer was.

British American confirmed that Ms Woodstock’s name was in their system, but Health Manager Vernice West declined to say if the policy was still active. She did say, however, that Ms Woodstock was in the system under a standard health insurance contract.

Ms Woodstock said she had an insurance card that that she had presented to the George Town Hospital clinic when she had gone for a pre-natal care visit one month ago. The hospital only charged her a co-payment for that visit she said.

Ms West confirmed that pregnancy would be covered under the standard health insurance contract, as would post-natal care for the child for up to 30 days. After that time period, the child would have to be enrolled in an insurance plan to be covered.

Superintendent Conolly expressed surprise that Ms Woodstock’s insurance could have been a factor in her travelling to Jamaica in her condition.

‘Even if there is the doubt that a patient has an acceptable level of health insurance, there’s a way of working out payment later,’ he said. ‘This was an emergency.’

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