MONTEGO BAY, St James — The selection of a provider of medical insurance for visitors to the country will move a step closer in the new year.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett will meet with the three short-listed vendors in the first week of January as the Government pushes ahead with the first end-to-end insurance programme for visitors to the island.
The Jamaica Cares Insurance Programme has taken on added significance as the country, like the rest of the world, grapples with health-care costs associated with the novel coronavirus.
“We were talking about this for a while and we had made arrangements to ensure that the market can respond to it. We think that the timing is right now, especially that I had seen long ago that these days would come and there are going to be strains that will challenge our health system, and that we needed to have that protection,” Bartlett told the Jamaica Observer Thursday.
The goal, he said, is for Jamaica's cost to be minimal while the service is also affordable for visitors. He explained that the insurance will cover major medical expenses and also provide for repatriation of those who become seriously ill after testing positive for COVID-19.
Once a vendor is selected, he said, a policy will be drafted for “required insurance for all visitors who come into the country”.
Earlier this year, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was tasked to undertake a competitive bidding process to identify suitable providers of medical insurance and health logistics coverage for purchase by tourists who are visiting Jamaica.
This followed Cabinet's approval for the JTB to be the coordinating entity, for the mandatory medical insurance coverage programme for visitors to Jamaica who hold foreign passports.
The initiative, which comprises two components — an all-hazard and a novel coronavirus programme — is aimed at providing travel protection and emergency services to tourists coming into the island, as well as ensuring the safety and protection of workers in the tourism sector and, by extension, Jamaican citizens.