Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush criticised a policy that recently prevented two premature twins from being able to get proper overseas neo-natal treatment because of a lack of money.
The Jamaican twins ultimately died in the Cayman Islands Hospital.
Mr. Bush asked Minister of Health Anthony Eden about why the twins weren’t able to get overseas medical treatment.
‘My understanding is that we contacted the Jamaican Consulate here to try to arranging the financing,’ Mr. Eden said. ‘One [overseas provider] wanted about $500,000 guarantee…. the parents didn’t have the financing.’
Mr. Bush said he had a similar situation with his daughter and that no guarantee was required.
‘What we’re saying here then, is that if they don’t have insurance, you prepare the babies and their parents for death?’ he asked.
Mr. Eden explained that what normally happens in a situation like the one with the premature twins is that a family member signs a guarantee, but in this case the family didn’t have someone who could sign such a guarantee.
‘That’s the part that worries me,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘Whether they’re from Jamaican or the moon or Cayman, we should do everything in the world to save life.
‘Obviously, the government wasn’t willing to sign [a guarantee] or would not sign.’
Mr. Bush urged Mr. Eden to have the government consider the situation.
‘This does not spell well for this country,’ he said. ‘This is the second time that because someone was from a certain country, government would not do anything about it.
‘We have these people working in our country and we have to find a way to deal better with it.’
Mr. Bush noted that under the current situation, unless a sick or injured person’s family can deal with the cost of emergency health care, the person was ‘a goner’.
Mr. Eden noted that health insurance coverage played a role in the problem.
‘Domestics’ employers are only required to provide the minimum coverage, which causes some of the problem,’ he said. ‘This [problem] we’ll be bringing to the Health Insurance Commission and asking them how this can best be dealt with.’
Mr. Eden suggested the coverage for catastrophic health problems could be raised, but noted the increased premium costs to do so had to be weighed in the equation.
‘These are all things as a nation we must look at,’ he said.
Mr. Eden noted that it used to be in Cayman that domestics weren’t allowed to have children here and had to go back to their own country to have babies, but he wasn’t sure if that provision was in the Immigration Law or not.