Collection of ambulance fees dramatically improved by Ministry VSA

Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Labour Emil Lee

PHILIPSBURG – During Wednesday’s, September 7, Council of Ministers press briefing, Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor Emil Lee said that the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is now empowered to collect the ambulance fees on behalf of government.

With the recent investments in equipment for the Ambulance Department, Minister Lee made it clear that investments come at a cost, and need to be paid back. In this regard, the Ministry is looking at how it can improve the revenues that the Ambulance Department collects.

Minister Lee said that over the years, revenue collection from the Ambulance Department has been very low. The Minister said that from experience, the process of collecting ambulance fees can take many months.

To solve this, a cooperation agreement has been made between SMMC, the Ministry of VSA, the Receiver’s Office, and the Ambulance Department for the hospital to collect the fees for the Ambulance Department.

Minister Lee said that SMMC will receive a 10 % commission in exchange for their service. “This also helps to support the revenues of SMMC, and also helps government to increase its revenue,” Minister Lee explained.

“Starting as of May, projected through December 2016, a three-fold increase is projected in the revenues to be collected for Ambulance service. In 2015, NAf. 72,189, was collected for the year, and in 2016 over NAf. 200,000 is projected to be the revenues. For 2017, in combination with the digitalization of the run sheets, we are expecting even greater revenues,” the Minister stated.

The current fees that are charged by the ambulance for services is NAf. 275, for emergencies and NAf. 138, for non-emergencies. This is quite low for ambulance services. “A good comparison is Curaçao, which charges NAf. 915 for emergencies, and NAf. 458 for non-emergencies. This clearly shows a need to adjust our tariffs,” stated Minister Lee.

The Minister thanked members of his ministry Selby Philips, Cylred Richardson, and Roxanne Howell. He also thanked Minerva Gumbs and staff from the Receiver’s Office and Davina Cabiere from SMMC for working diligently on this agreement.