This is due to the passing of a new policy which puts expatriate workers and their families in the same category as Cook Islanders for medical fees.
The new National Health Services Fee Schedule was passed in Cabinet yesterday and is divided into five sections which encompass all charges in the Ministry of Health.
This covers fees at the Rarotonga Hospital, the hospital laboratory, radiology, Community Health Services and dental services.
Policy manager Valentino Wichman says the change recognises the input that contract workers have in the Cook Islands tax system.
“They pay taxes so they feel they should be given cheaper fees,” says Valentino
Previously, contract workers came under the same category as tourists, which meant many had to pay $50 for a visit to the doctor
Category one, the cheapest fee, now encompasses all Cook Islanders, not just residents. It includes permanent and honorary residents, expatriate workers who have resided in the Cook Islands for more than six months consecutively, their spouse and their children, and non-Cook Islands women who give birth to babies from a Cook Islands partner.
Category two includes tourists, short-term consultants and others who do not fit into category one.
Health Minister Nandi Glassie says he is very pleased that his ministry has once again reached more milestones in the way they administer their operations.
Glassie says the Ministry of Health will not deny anybody health care and they have a duty of care for anyone becomes ill while in the Cook Islands.
“The new National Health Services Fee Schedule is very important because there have been a lot of complaints and criticism about the previous fee schedule.”
Glassie says the policy clearly stipulates that the fee system is determined by who you are and the cause of your illnesses, and now there should be no confusion.
The policy has been written in such a way that it is easier for people to understand, he says.
“I encourage people to get to know what is inside this policy, so they can have a clear of understanding of what it involves.”
Glassie says formulation of the new policy has involved a ‘long journey’ for the ministry, and there has been a very extensive consultation before it got to this stage.