Published On: Sat, Jun 15th, 2024

Universal Health Care at the Cigar Bar

Dear Editor,

A while back at the Cigar Bar, seeing our conditions, the boys decided to discuss health care systems, on St. Maarten and around the world. Some said the health care system on the French side was boss, while on the Dutch side—not so much, or far from, in some instances. Though we have to consider the particular cases and not the grass is greener on the other side. For only those who have gone through the system and the degree of the condition of the patient can really tell.

We even looked at some countries that have free health care for its citizens, at what cost, to whom, and what degree of quality care, wondering and exploring and trying to critical examine how can these different health system exists, within the context of the growing and unsustainable cost of medical care, increase cost of living, limited medical professionals, ever increasing country budgets and cost, downward pressure on salaries, growing elderly population coupled with younger demographics, etc..

In addition to looking at why free or universal medical care was (not) possible to have such on St. Maarten. Inquiries all very curious mind rumblings, though discussed with a sort of strange combination of callous indifference yet applicable immediacy.

As we discussed this important and complex topic while simultaneously nonchalantly and obliviously inhaling each other’s residual smoke, there were at times intense back and forth discussions and arguments about the efficacy of a free and/or universal health care insurance and who pays for such amid the economic situation.

No doubt, there was consensus about the need for everyone having a half-decent health care plan. But is it realistic? Can St. Maarten afford such a universal health insurance plan? How and what the resultant quality of health care would be? We cannot dulcify the situation.

Everyone will get sick one day, and die. Whether all of a sudden or a prolong illness, that day will come. This unfortunate and unavoidable situation will be accompanied by costly burial expenses. So it’s like we are in a vortex, an ever circling, dizzy  reality that is spiraling and whirling, unable to escape. Some do; while others continue to wriggle downwards.

Regardless of the political, economic, and social consciousness of what St. Maarten was or is in, there should be a universal health care system, or national health insurance, where everyone contributes base on his or her actual income levels. How that will look, what it entails is left to be seen, but it should include burial insurance and it should begin as early as is possible.

So as we play political ring-around-the-rosy, there are some real world, intense issues that affects persons and families on a daily basis.

Not to mention the stagnant new wing. But I digress.

But no doubt, there is a real need to improve the health care system, from the small policy things like separating men from women in the hospital rooms to waiting times for specialists—which has to be balanced with the associated cost and availability of specialist themselves. There are many other issues that has to be dealt with sooner rather than later. At least, for now, we have a relatively ok to good health care system.

St. Maarten has to aim to get a universal health care system where everyone have health care insurance—equal at least to the other.

We should not bother about perfection and of getting such a health care system perfectly right and prolong the creation and implementation of such a system; such perfections were not present to begin with. Granted there will be some leakages and inefficiencies, but through deliberate, sincere, and consistent efforts, the human improves.

Let there be no doubt, people deserve health care. How it happens will be decided. But what must not go on is thinking that it hard or impossible or it too expensive. No. The point of the departure is that it must happened; the only question is how. Those who say that a universal health care system or a national health insurance is too difficult, expensive, hard, and/or impossible are people who actually have health insurance.

Hope is not lost; it is just yet to be discovered.

Pedro de Weever