Pharmacies warn medicines for civil servants in jeopardy

Pharmacies warn medicines  for civil servants in jeopardy

Pharmacies have not been paid for medication dispensed for several months.

~ SZV, payment expected next week ~

PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Pharmacy Association says the Fund for Civil Servants OZR has not paid pharmacies for medication dispensed for August, September and October, due to a lack of payment from the government to Social and Health Insurances SZV.

  “Pharmacies in St. Maarten dispense prescription medicines for all cardholders insured by SZV and private insurances on credit. At the end of every month, pharmacies send their invoices to SZV to get paid for their services and the cost of medication,” said the association in a press statement on Thursday. “SZV has an agreement to pay pharmacies within 30 days after they send in their invoices.”

  According to the statement, SZV signed with the government a contract to manage civil servants’ health care dispensation under the OZR Fund. SZV issues membership cards, does prescriptions checks and handles payments to contracted healthcare providers; doctors, pharmacies, opticians, etc.

  The association said that government must release funds to SZV for the amount that has to be paid to healthcare providers, especially pharmacies.

  Pharmacies buy their medicine from local or foreign suppliers in advance and must make payment within 30 days to guarantee delivery. “Pharmacies depend on timely payment from all insurance funds to have the means to buy medication needed for the population of St. Maarten,” said the pharmacy association.

  With the Fund for the Civil Servants lagging in payment, the finances of the pharmacies are stretched thin and it has become unsustainable to guarantee that all patients have access to all their medication on time.

  This situation puts pharmacies, their suppliers and most importantly the availability of medication for the people of St. Maarten, in jeopardy.

  The Pharmacy Association said it is looking for options to continue necessary care for all its patients, but options are running out. Without timely payments the association said that pharmacies will be left with no other option than to prioritise service to those who are insured under ZV, FZOG and private insurances.

  “Sooner or later the Pharmacy Association will have no other option than to suspend OZR coverage for civil servants and resort to payment in cash for medication dispensed.”

  In a request for a comment by The Daily Herald, Director of SZV Glen Carty confirmed that there has been a delay in payments to healthcare providers. However, he said this is nothing new and has been going on for several years.

  Carty said the insurance company carries out the administration process for the government, which provides the payment on a monthly basis. Therefore, SZV cannot make any payments until the funds have been received to do so.

  He assured that SZV has been working together with government to address this problem and come up with a “structural solution”.

  He noted that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the cash flow on St. Maarten has been severely reduced with many businesses closing their doors.

  The director ended by extending his gratitude to pharmacies for their continued understanding in the matter; he disclosed that the pharmacies should receive a payment as soon as next week.

The Daily Herald

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