Barbados Health Care denied to visitors: Justified? Racist? Two readers have their say…

In the past week the Caribbean has been abuzz with stories and opinion pieces about the Barbados government’s decision to deny free health care to visitors – with the exception of real emergencies, of course.

Two of our readers chime in with their five and an half pennies. First up: Kammie Holder…

Barbados Health Care in The Amputation Capital of the World!

by Kammie Holder

When in Ghana a couple months ago I cannot remember seeing obese persons. What I did see were plenty of markets selling vegetables and not a brand name fast food restaurant in sight.  In Barbados our lifestyle coupled with our “progress” has led us to the enviable position of being the amputation capital of the world and the country in the Caribbean with a highest population of obese persons. Those are my observations and if the stats prove me wrong it won’t be by much.

Thus it may surprise you to learn that we spend $53 million in drugs; $36 million with private pharmacies and $12 million of that is for dispensing fees. My research has uncovered that the ratio of generic to branded drugs on the formulary has being about 70:30 for the last 10 years.

As a person intimately involved in the sale of medical insurance I believe that every effort must be made to encourage doctors and pharmacist to eliminate wastage when prescribing and dispensing – without compromising patient care. I dare say a more holistic approach must be taken by doctors rather than offering drugs for every ailment. Medical professionals should be suggesting exercise and the changing of eating habits.

Some will be surprised and offended to know that over $250 million is spent to treat non-communicable diseases and other related illnesses. There are also indirect costs in loss of productivity and disruption to family cohesion.  Every citizen has a choice to exercise, reduce sodium and eat healthier.

As a society we are very selective in what brand of gasoline they put in their cars yet anything is placed into our mouths.

Within recent days Barbados has being taking verbal beatings from its neighbors about the enforcement of a regulation which allows only permanent  residents and citizens to benefit from free drugs while emergency as well treatment for communicable diseases will be free to all.

The country is being vilified unjustifiably by those without any long term vision and not a modicum of good governance.  How many countries offer free bus fare, free school books, free education, free lunch, free health care and a uniform grant? I say to our neighbors your jealousy is showing as a man truly reveals his feelings when angry.

Here is a post from the Starbroek news, “Nature is lifting the veil and the whole Caribbean is now getting a true glimpse of their pompousness and arrogance. They are now being exposed for who they truly are.”

We have elected Barbadian politicians to govern our affairs and act in our best interest to maintain our progress and that is what they have done to try and bring our health costs under control. The government must also move post haste to make premiums paid on a Health Plan tax deductible.

Kammie Holder LUTCF, FSS

Next: Anonymous reader “Dave U. Random”…

Health Care cut-off: A Racist Attack for Political Reasons

by “Dave U. Random”

I am reading in today’s (April 6, 2011) Nation newspaper about the disturbing decision from the Ministry Of Health of Barbados to exclude non-nationals from medical assistance.

I find this decision to be discriminatory, racist and short minded. Let me explain why:

The government of Barbados asks any resident in this country to pay taxes, no matter if they are a citizen or not. But when it comes to giving health assistance the Government discriminates based on the “bajan race”.

So here it comes the racist part: unless you belong to the bajan race you have no rights, you have to pay your taxes and shut up! Interesting concept isn’t it? That goes against any civil rights.

To be honest what really concerns me is this: The DLP government knows that Barbados has relatively few immigrants, so why this new decision to cut off the non nationals from health care?? The answer is: low profile politics.

The DLP is well aware that elections are around the corner and to make sure to maintain the seats in the parliament they want the Barbadian base on their side. They DLP are attacking non-nationals to impress the short minded part of the community and gain their support..

I call it short minded simply because Barbados without foreign presence would collapse, considered that most of the economy of this island is supported by tourism.

But many bajans do not like people from overseas anyhow and the DLP is well aware of that.

Mr. Inniss with his sleepy and fatty face, with his government, does not realize that attacking visitors and immigrants is going to became a boomerang for him and the entire Nation.

If the Barbados Government has so many issues with non nationals why not tell them that they are not welcome. Why not just tell immigrants and non-nationals to leave the Country? Go ahead and we’ll see the consequences with the World Community.


Filed under Barbados, Health, Human Rights, Immigration

35 responses to “Barbados Health Care denied to visitors: Justified? Racist? Two readers have their say…

  1. tell it like it is

    Is Dave Random a Barbadian? Does he work and pay Taxes in Barbados? If he does, then he can expose his stupidity, if not keep he mouth or writings to himself. How can any one expect a small island like Barbados, with no natural resources, just it’s people, working their butts off on a daily basis to be the hospital for the rest of the Caribbean. Does any of the other islands put finances into our medical facilities. Come on peoples be fair and just, can any of us in Barbados go to say Trinidad and get free treatment? Can we go to the USA and get free medical treatment. I think our Minister of Health is being fair. If anyone outside of Barbadians want medical treatment, they should pay for it. I have worked in the Health service and I know how it has been abused by people who should know better.

  2. Logic prevails

    I quite agree with the post above by ‘Tell It…’
    Our economy can hardly afford to do this for OUR own VAT-paying citizens
    far less outsiders!

    Let visitors pay. Let them pay cost + 15% as a minimum.

  3. 172

    “Dave U. Random” so clearly has issues with Barbados.
    There’s so bug up his axe, isn’t there.

    Seek professional help, Dave.
    Talk to a lawyer, or better yet, to your psychological therapist.
    Barbados economy is on the near-collapse.
    Dipper’s great socialist dream has been a nightmare now -for decades

    Wherever “Dave” is from, the medical services he now needs is waaaay expensive
    and he’s trying to get said services at a better price.
    Check in at Bayview, I’m sure they can help you out, sir.

  4. Weston

    Dave Random’s point was that resident foreigners who pay taxes should have access to free treatment. He never said other visitors should qualify as well.

  5. foreign residents paying taxes

    If these foriegn residents are truly paying their fair proportion of taxes into the system then they should be allowed to access medical care.

    How about running as an independent?

  6. Dave Random talking CRAP

    I agree 100% with Kammie. I would like Dave to state how many non nationals pay taxes. Statistics???? Most DONT. The govt has every right to make that decision and its an excellent one. It has nothing to do with them not being welcome in our country but name how many countries in the WORLD you can go to and receive free health care??????? I guess then Barbadians arent welcome in those countries either……

  7. Dave Random talking CRAP

    I agree 100% with Kammie. I would like Dave to state how many nonnationals actually pay taxes in this country. Statistics??? Many of them DON’T. It has nothing to do with nonnationals not being welcome but tell me what countries in the WORLD can Barbadians go to and receive free healthcare???? I guess Barbadians are not welcome in other countries either……Furthermore, I guess other countries welcome NOONE.

  8. Junior

    I am BAJAN. I lived, worked and studied in Canada. I paid tax, Employment Insurance and contributed to the Canadian Pension Plan.
    First question I was asked on my 3 visits to hospital was “Do you have your OHIP card ?” The response, ” No, I am not Canadian.” always attracted the reponse “You will have to pay then,. Do you have a credit card ?”

  9. what will they think of next

    People like Commisong want Barbados to be the free Hospital to the Caribbean.
    I think what these Caribbean people ought to be doing is to pressure their Govts. to deliver for them what is being done in Barbados.
    What Caribbean Govts. are doing is encouraging their nationals to head to Barbados and thus take their responsibility off their shoulders.

  10. watcher


    Here is how you get coverage in Ontario (and other provinces) for health care…..copied and pasted

    “In order to be eligible for coverage under OHIP, a person normally must be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident or a holder of a work permit as set out in Ontario’s Health Insurance Act, must make his or her permanent and principal home in Ontario, and must be physically present in Ontario 153 days in any 12-month period. Canadian citizens or permanent residents returning to Canada from another country are not normally covered by OHIP until they have been resident in Ontario for three months. It is recommended to obtain private health insurance to cover this three-month period. For those Canadian citizens or permanent residents moving to Ontario from another province, the province of previous residency will continue to cover them during the three month waiting period”

    If you were working in Canada and paying CPP and taxes you must have had a work permit or been a permanet resident. So you would have had a SIN number and as such after 3 months you were elibible to be covered by OHIP. If you go to Canada or likley any other country on a vacation or a visit you are not covered for medical insutrance by the host country. That is what travel health care insurance is for. If you are legal in Canada for 3 months you are covered fo OHIP.

    If you are a legal resident in Canada, after you have been there for 3 months you are covered. Your employer would have been paying health care tax as a percetage of the amount of money you were making in your job.

    As I understand the suggestion by the Barbaods Government, it would not matter if you were a legal resident or not. If you were not born in the island you would not be covered. I dont think anyone expects free health coverage while on vacation but if you are a legal resident subject to tax and contributing to the economy, your treatement should not be any different than others entitiled to receive health care.

    From what I can see when I visit Ontario if the same type of policy were advanced there as is being thought of for Barbados, likley 30% of the residents of Ontario wuld have no health care. Just would not fly there in the great multi-culture society that it is.

  11. typical crap to feed the masses

    Where are the facts on who burdens the health care system in Barbados. Come outright with numbers and let us have a proper discussion. Tell us what happened last year that is so burdensome for us not to carry.
    And Junior,, dont talk foolishness.. ohip is not tied to citizenship..

  12. Tell me Why

    Since we are on Health Care, let me state my anger, my dissatisfaction with the stupidity of our health system. Kammie, would you believe all the talk by the minister regarding certain drugs that might be removed from the formula and the denial by the said minister that will not be the case……would you believe that Co-Diovan which is for Hypertension has been taken off the Drug formula. Now, people using this drug now have to pay $50.00 and over for a month’s supply. Remember people suffering with Hypertension, HIV or Diabetes were receiving these drugs free. Now, what is going to happen now, will be the Government bringing in generic drugs and giving to to these chronically ill patients. This is the renew vigour of this health minister. Take it or lump it.

  13. watcher

    It could be that Junior just did not understand how to aply for OHIP.

    I suspect if you walk in to a hospital and tell them you are not a Canadian resident and you that you are Bajan and you don’t have OHIP coverage the person you are speaking to will ask you to pay for the service you are receiving.

    The reality of leaving Canadians residents, or others for that matter, who are legally resident in Barbados out of the health care sytem could be a little risky….they might cut our power off and tighten up bank loans….just kidding of course but that would be as ridiculous as having a segemented health care system. That flag not going to get many salutes from any person who has a brain that functions.

    If we want a great health system check Canada’s out. It is one of the greatest in the world. If you are a legeal resident you are covered for doctors visits and and hospital care. When you are 65 you also get all drugs covered.

  14. yatinkiteasy

    Hi BFP…how come not a peep about the British Actress raped on Sandy Lane Beach by a serial rapist, and the bumbling RBPF. Story all over the news in UK.

  15. running

    My question is why so many Cariibean Nationals are running to live in Barbados. The answer is their governments have failed them miserably, some run from the voilence, drugs and poor economies.

    Wherever you turn it is govt officials teaming up with “strong men” and economic power houses against the masses of the people. They spend five to ten years raid the coffers, spend millions with little focus on their people and to fatten their friend’s pockets and seemingly shield that from the laws of the land while they the politicians take phot ops with them.

    No reason why the other nationals are running here. It is an economic flight. these nationals need to hold their leaders up to more scrutiny.

  16. what will they think of next

    that is for you to worry about, yatinkiteasy .

  17. Quite simply – two things; what’s wrong with Free Healthcare for Bajans (Naturalised or Returning National, etc.) only and foreigners paying? Don’t all other countries do so?

    Re – Kammie’s Observation of “obese” and “amputees”; Barbados needs to do like Australia, junk food is expensive and Healthy stuff like Vegetables and Fruits are cheap… Why should a can of Supligen be five dollars yet if my diabetic mother wants an Enterex or Glucerna, then it’s 12 dollars a can! To make a salad is a rare treat but 100 bags of Corn Curls barely dents one’s pocket.

  18. michele

    All I can say is when leaving my country-Canada-I do not leave without proper medical insurance for coverage in any country I am visiting!
    Last year an older gentleman,travelling with us to Barbados,became sick & had to be treated.He recieved excellent treatment at the local Barbadian hospital-his medical insurance covered ALL fees!And,yes,our health system(CANADA) is one of the best in the world-now…if only we had Doctors!!! It stands to reason,that if you are visiting or temporarily living in Barbados,you should have medical insurance…if you are a permanent resident & paying taxes,then Barbadian Health care should be available to you.Simple.

  19. Re-think parts of it!

    Roughly 10 years ago I filed for Barbadian citizenship (under citizenship by descent). I myself was born in the United States to two Barbadian parents. After I received my citizenship in Barbados I was told I could access free prescription drugs for the sniffles I came down with while on the island. I thought that was a little easy.
    I feel in the interest of protecting the system, if someone is a permanent resident outside of Barbados, and they come from a developed country, perhaps they could stand to pay the dispensing fee rate?
    Americans can’t buy the same drugs (in the USA) that cheaply! So even at the dispensing fee rate, it is a huge bargain! Save totally free for those that live on the island, and have to make their living there.

  20. Re-think parts of it!

    @Ian Bourne. Returning nationals could be better off than a born-Barbadian. If a returning national maintains pension coverage (in a foreign currency) they would probably have more disposable income than what a born-Barbadian gets through the local system. Even after the conversion rate.
    The born-Barbadian will feel fees harder then the returning national. Then again if a Barbadian has worked in both Barbados and overseas, and gets pensions from both nations, they’ll be better off than the fore mentioned.

  21. Responder

    You want to have access to our free health care, pay taxes. Only legitimate visitors would enjoy that service. If you are here illegal I would put your ass to f… out my country. Go back to your country and lobby, protest and make a stand for the same benefits we enjoy here.

  22. Kammie Holder

    Most country have as part of their visa requirements medical insurance. In Grenada every household is charged $20EC which is added to Electricity bills,don`t pay and your garbage will not be collected. Barbados is one of the few countries in the caribbean who still have a mail delivery via postal workers. God, good wunnah want to kill an excellent health care system where persons from other countries come here for private treatment and governments send their citizens here.

  23. Kammie Holder

    Barbados spends more money on health and education than Trinidad, France and even the US compared to its size. Our social services are the envy of the world and even the World Bank and IMF are amazed how we do it and have being lobbying for a reduction. Many persons come here to get pregnant and many persons come here to get free drugs thats from the horses mouth.

  24. Kammie Holder

    Barbados and Barbadians despite we are depised are the most charitable persons within the Caribbean. Last year St Lucian fishermen recovered a fishing boat of a friend that broke its mooring at Half Moon Fort and demanded over $100,000 EC. Within weeks St Lucia was struck by a storm and Bajan fishermen used their time and resources to get supplies especially water to St Lucia.

    NB: Like all countries Emergency and treatment for Communicable diseases is available to every person living in Barbados legal or illegal.

  25. Kammie Holder

    As it relates to Non Communicable Diseases, change of diet and exercise will help in management of these lifestyle diseases. Stop allowing Doctors to use you as mortgage money and send you to the grave sooner. Every medication have contra-indications. So when you take medication for diabetes that harms your heart and liver, you will then get additional medication which will also cause you to treat the combine problem. CHANGE EATING HABITS.
    Treat the CAUSE and not the Symptoms and you will become healthier. Treat the symptoms and you will always be unhealthy! Be Health Smart.

  26. watcher

    In the end there is no free health care anywhere. If you a legal resident and paying taxes you are paying your share of health care. It is more important to determine who is a legal resident and where that persons taxes are paid. If they are filing Barbados tax returns then they are resident. If they are not paying enough tax to cover the social services that are provided, increase the tax rate or better yet have the government stop wasting money. The Government has two ways out of its current financial mess. which is what is at the heart of this discussion. Cut services or raise taxes. Maybe the VAT should become 25%. That method of taxation assures that all consumption is shared equally. ….lets see, maybe 25% would not be enough…still have to deal with the Clico issue.

    Kammie Holder is right on the mark about diet and excerise. Have a look around you….it is a time bomb for the health care system. If you think it is expesnive now and hard for the government to afford, what do you think it will be like in 10 years. Time for all of us to get off of our butts and think about our lifestyle. For example if you are a smoker you get no health care.

  27. Curious Bajan

    If asking non-nationals to pay for health care here in Barbados is “racism”, does this mean that some of our CARICOM neighbors are committing “crimes against humanity” in insisting that both natives and non-nationals pay for health care in their jurisdictions?

    Why can’t we accept that Barbados as a sovereign state has the right to decide how to allocate its funds, just as the governments of neighboring islands exercise the right to allocate their funds as they see fit?

    Why not lobby for more humane conditions as it relates to health care in ones’ own country? Wouldn’t that ultimately improve the standard of living for not only present but future generations, perhaps making your own country one to aspire to emulate in the future?

    Do people understand that Barbadian individuals and businesses are also being affected by the world’s current economic downturn, and that we are not immune?

    Let’s be fair.

  28. 166

    anyone who has been living and working in Barbados for ten, twenty or thirty years and have not sought legal neutralisation deserve to pay. I came here in 1984, and by 1985 I had my papers signed , sealed and delivered, and have a Barbados passport, our daughter who was not born here has a Barbados passport, so they only have themselves to blame. Those who are here on work permits their employers should give them a health care plan by a reputable insurance company; so let’s be fair to this small island who is trying to provide health care for it’s people.

  29. Junior

    No one on campus would employ you otherwise.No one provided me with any coverage. I paid money to get privately insured. I was not eligible for OHIP. I had my private insurance rejected very publicly while seeking medical consultation. I was there 4 years. Wheel and come again.

  30. sam cooke and duppy

    stop this free sponging and go and regularise your status, Dave U. Random cant even publish his real name, how is your status dave?
    i cant go to the states and england and get free healthcare but my small island with a small economy is to provide it to the world right? please and i take insult to you calling the people of barbados small minded because if it wasnt for our “small minds” creating this great nation you wouldnt have a safe haven to run and flee too

  31. Achilles

    Does anyone know how the new stance on healthcare affect those non-national inmates who have been detained at Dodds, and who are presented to the QEH for surgical procedures, most of which are for elective surgeries (i.e non urgent), such as for hernias which they have had before incarceration.

  32. Responder

    Tell it like it is ‘Sam Cooke and duppy’. Tell it like it is.

  33. Health Watcher

    I wish to make it clear that the issue of freehealthcare at point of delivery in state owned facilities to citizens or permanent residents in Barbados is not a new policy. I heard the Minister of Health Donville Inniss clearly state that this has always been the policy and he is merely insisting on it being firmly implemented whilst at the same time bringing greater clarity to the kinds of ID to be accepted by said health facilities as well as the kind of health services that will be available to all free of cost – emergency care, HIV etc

    Those who complained and are not citizens nor permanent residents and at some point in time accessed the QEH would have been billed; even if they never paid the bill! So it clearly not a new policy.

    I saw a comment from the Minister of Health on the weekend which indicated that those who have been living here for years and may feel entitled to permanent residence should go to the Immigration Dept and sort it out. You cannot expect the Health Ministry to determine one’s immigrant status!

    Paying taxes alone does not entitle anyone to free healthcare anywhere in the world. I agree with Minister Inniss when he states that those coming to Barbados to live and work should have a health insurance policy as a condition of being granted a work permit.

    Whatever one may think of Minister Inniss, he is clearly one Minister who is not afraid to tackle the problems head on and to find solutions. He may not be everyone’s favourite politician, but if all others were as honets and forthright with citizens as he has been, then Barbados would be a better place. Inniss has my full support as he reforms the healthcare system in Barbados. He is a great leader.

  34. Christian

    Cash counts! in these harsh economic times everyone must cut costs. Thats a surprising point of view for a Christian society.
    No one expects feee cosmetic surgery, but turning away a sick person is extreme. The policy states that non nationals will not be treated unless its is an emergency? Not even if they are willing to pay?
    Who makes the decision if its an emergency? Not a doctor..the politicians say that decision is made by an admissions officer? I assume that the Government will now have to pay to train these persons so that they can make a proper medical assesment? A child is alergic to shrimp…the first symptom is a swollen face… a short time later death is very possible. Will an admissions clerk be able to make this assesment or will they only see a swollen face. If the child dies on the way o a private facility…I assume that the parents have legal recourse against the hospital and government?
    Other people/countries do not offer free care…so its ok if we dont.
    A plausable argument but not a very Christian one. They sin so its ok if i do. Judge actions by their merit not by what others do.
    Its not about free health care…its about NO access to the highest level of halth care even if you are willing to pay.

  35. Christian

    Happy to be corrected on any of the points above. The communication I have seen from the Government suggests that people will be turned away from QEH on the basis of residency…no mention was made of paying for services. The goverment should clarify this point.
    Barbados is a beutiful country with high aspirations. Multinational/Offshore firms are welcomed. One day Barbados may be a corporate hub for the carribbean …for the world?
    How can the government promote this ideal and then implement hypocracy