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Thursday, May 11, 2006 

thursday,May 11, 2006 - Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, N.A.

Renewal of doctor cardsfor elderly, disabled
more efficient

PHILIPSBURG--The renewal of doctor cards for the elderly and disabled is expected to be more efficient thanks to a new system recently implemented at the Department of Social Welfare and Labour, Commissioner Louie Laveist said Wednesday.

Based on the new system, the Department will start processing the renewal of a card once it expires, for it to be available when the client is ready to collect it.

Laveist said the Department would prepare a list of all expired doctor cards twice annually, in January and July. The list will be submitted to BZV for renewal, a process which takes roughly two months.

He said a “guarantee letter” valid for three months would be issued to persons whose cards expired within two months of the list being submitted to BZV. “This will ensure that elderly and disabled applicants will remain insured at all times,” he told reporters at the weekly Executive Council press briefing Wednesday.

BZV will forward the renewed cards to the Department of Social Welfare and Labour where they can be collected by applicants. “If the applicant can’t pick up the card personally, the person or institution doing so must submit proof that the applicant is still alive,” he explained.

A declaration from a family physician, a social worker or a document from the Census Office can verify proof of life, he said. The Social Welfare Department will update the Executive Council on the number of cards renewed and issued on a monthly basis.

This new procedure only applies to renewal of doctor cards. All other applicants are required to follow the regular procedure. “By implementing this new procedure, it will be possible to process first time requests much faster than is now the case,” Laveist said. “I see it as a good step in the right direction.”

He said, “The process is now running much smoother.” He said government had received a lot of complaints about the tedious process to renew doctor cards in the past. He said he was happy that a new system was now in place to make the procedure more efficient.

Laveist said the need for the new system had become more pronounced, as many applicants failed to renew their cards immediately after they expired and in most cases only did so when they needed to visit the doctor. “Almost every person will not remember to renew their cards after five years. Family members or loved ones will only remember when the family member is ill. This results in unnecessary stress for all parties involved,” he said.

To qualify for a doctor card, the elderly or disabled applicant should be uninsured, and his or her total family income should not exceed NAf. 3,758, Laveist said.

Copyright ©2006 The Daily Herald St. Maarten

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