Source Today Newspaper
GREAT BAY – Social and Health Insurance provider SZV has embarked on what CEO Glen Carty called “a blitz campaign of information” during a press conference yesterday. SZV is firing on all cylinders to improve the service to its clients, but Carty said that this is a process that will take a couple of years. “By 2020 we will have the SZV that we really want.”
Carty joined SZV three years ago as its interim-director. “We did a quick scan and when you look under the hood or an organization you’ll find that what is supposed to be is not always there,” he said. “SZV has to improve its service; it can no longer function as a semi-government organization in a monopoly position. People who come here usually have medical issues or they want information if they are pensioners. We had to determine where the bottlenecks are and figure out a way to fix them.”
Had those bottlenecks only been within SZV that task would have been easy, Carty noted. “But we depend on customers, medical institutions, general practitioners, the law, and the culture within the organization.”
Taking all these factors into consideration, SZV rolled out a blueprint for where it wants to go. “We know what we have to do and how we need to do it,” Carty said. “The most difficult part is the implementation. We have to take it off the paper and bring it into the reality. That process will take a couple of years to complete.”
St. Maarten inherited the organization from SVB in 2010 when the island obtained country status. A lot of information was not on paper, but stored in the heads of the organization’s older employees. “Only a year ago,” Carty said, “I discovered that you are not insured by SZV if you go off island.”
The current remedy is for travelers to buy medical insurance for the duration of their travels.
In a review of 2016, the new government administration is at the top of the list. “That was a tremendous hot potato,” Carty says.
This morning the SZV and the government will sign the lease agreement for the building.
SZV managed to improve compliance rates – that is, make sure that companies pay their premiums, but there is still a lot to do. SZV’s Chief Financial Officer Elton Felisie said that, after corrections, the organization still has 200 million guilders (almost $112 million) “on the road” that will have to be collected.
SZV’s audit team has been knocking on doors to achieve a higher rate of compliance. “But our team comes in peace,” Carty said. “We are not out to close down non-compliant businesses. We establish the arrears together, we ask companies to remain current and then we work out a plan to pay the arrears over a period of, if necessary, several years.”
SZV has tools at its disposal, like a fine-system, to make companies that refuse to cooperate compliant.
Felisie said that, as a rule of thumb based on experiences in other countries, roughly one-third of businesses is compliant, another third is more or less compliant and the remaining third is not. Compliance efforts focus on the bottom third of this pie.
SZV’s Chief Customer Officer Parveen Boertje said that the organization sees it as its responsibility to inform people and businesses about their responsibilities. There are for instance clear rules for how companies have to register with SZV and which employees have to be registered for sickness insurance. All employees have to be registered for the accident insurance.
Carty emphasizes that employees who are uncertain about their position, or whose employer refuses to register them, should come to the SZV offices.
“We register all employees and we are not the immigration department. To us it does not matter whether someone is legal or illegal. If there is a problem with the employer, we will visit the company,” Carty said.
Boertje adds that SZV is also working on simplifying its customer service; waiting times have been cut down from sometimes four weeks to five days.
SZV positions itself now in the market with the slogan ‘SZV has the answers’ but the organization is well aware that not everybody has access to a computer and that not everybody is reading newspapers.
“We need a blitz-campaign of information,” Carty said. “If we have to hold a meeting with the SHTA, we will do it; the same for the Chamber of Commerce. If we have to talk to people in church after mass we will do that too.”
Next week SZV will present a policy sheet that gives an overview of what is covered under the SZV insurance.
The organizations communication department has set up an on line press center for journalists; it gives direct access to information and photos; SZV also created a Whatsapp group for fast communication with the media.
In the plans for this year are a public information campaign with a focus on rights and obligations, staff training and development and public information sessions. The first one is scheduled for next week Thursday about the sickness insurance ordinance.