The Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance (DCHA) summit held here earlier this month is interesting. The idea is that Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten, and the Netherlands on behalf of Bonaire collaborate closely in hospital care to enhance quality and accessibility.
Curaçao Medical Center (CMC), Aruba’s Horacio Oduber Hospital (HOH), St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and Bonaire’s Mariadal will do so in a cooperative. The former two are to reach separate agreements with respectively the Advent Hospital and “Instituto Medico San Nicolas” Imsan.
Obvious advantages include joint purchasing and training, sharing specialists and medical referrals. The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how essential this kind of cooperation can be, as patients were transferred between the islands when needed.
As there is strength in numbers, the move would also create a more powerful platform to – for example – negotiate rates and/or subsidies with the four countries concerned. The involvement of their governments and collective insurers in the discussions is a somewhat reassuring thought in that sense.
The only real worry might be that several of these medical institutions currently face major challenges. CMC and HOH both have financial problems, while SMMC is taking on a huge commitment with construction of the new St. Maarten General Hospital (SGH).
The collective insurance funds in the three Dutch Caribbean countries are also dealing with deficits that could in turn have an impact on healthcare. Affordability therefore remains of great importance.
Perhaps together the parties in question will be better able to confront these common issues and indeed improve the product, but hopefully also keep it payable.