Gov't announces health, pension plan for athletes

Gov't announces health, pension plan for athletes

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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GOVERNMENT yesterday announced plans for the introduction of health insurance benefits to cover some 1,500 Jamaican athletes.

Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that the health insurance plan forms part of Jamaica's Sport Policy, which has been developed to fuel success in sports, as well as to enhance future development.

"We are looking to cover some 1,500 athletes in the first instance and I speak broadly to athletes, being all sportsmen and women, not just those in athletics," the minister said.

The Sport Policy, the minister said, also has a pension plan for the athletes, which is still being discussed, with a view to making it a contributory scheme, similar to the one that pertains in the public sector.

The minister's announcement comes just more that a week after the Sunday Observer first reported the plight of Olympian Olivia McKoy, who has fallen on hard times and was forced to sell bag drinks on the streets of Kingston.

Several persons, responding to the Observer story, have offered to help the struggling Olympian. She has, however, agreed to settle to a teaching job at the Hydel Group of Schools, owned by former senator Hyacinth Bennett.

Yesterday, Neita-Headley told the JIS that a broad spectrum of individuals from the different sporting disciplines, who are now involved in representing Jamaica, either at the national or professional level, would be included in the 1,500.

"Once the Sport Council is satisfied that we have given the best coverage to each athlete, it will then go to Cabinet for approval," the minister said, adding that "it will then go to tender and an insurance company will be selected to give coverage to the athletes".

The minister pointed out that track and field has the largest number of beneficiaries.

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