Chamber of Commerce Holds Forum to Discuss Financial Challenges of the health ecosystem in Puerto Rico
“Healthy Company” Preventive Health Program Presented for Employers and Employees
San Juan, PR-The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC) held a conclave that brought together private sector leaders, experts and senior government officials to discuss the financial challenges facing Puerto Rico’s health system. As part of the forum, PRCC announced the launch of the Healthy Company program and its new vaccination campaign for employers and employees, which begins this November.
Under the theme Health Alert for Puerto Rico, the event featured speakers such as Crystal Coleman, acting regional director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Atlanta regional office; Lcdo. Alexander Adams Vega, Commissioner, Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico (OCS); Dr. Iris R. Cardona, MD, chief medical officer of the Puerto Rico Department of Health; Roxanna K. Rosario-Serrano, BHE, MS, Acting Director of the Health Insurance Administration (ASES); and Luis Maldonado, FSA, MAAA, of the Milliman company.
“The health system on the island has been facing significant financial challenges in recent years, both the commercial segment of private plans and the public side. This situation merits a serious and in-depth discussion, given the seriousness of the challenges we face, which directly impact access to health services and, therefore, the well-being of the population,” said Lcdo. Ramón Pérez Blanco, president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce.
Topics discussed included federal regulations and their impact on the commercial healthcare sector; the state of financial position of the private health sector and the future of ASES.
Puerto Rico’s health sector faces multiple challenges, such as historic increases in the use of health services, inflation in drug prices, the reduction in the number of doctors, the bankruptcy of hospitals and the losses experienced this year by health insurers, according to figures reported by these companies to the OCS.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 4,200 drugs experienced price increases during the period from January 2022 to January 2023. 46 percent of these increases outpaced the rate of inflation. The average increase in drug prices in this period was 15.2 percent, which translates to $590 per drug.
According to Luis Pizarro, incoming president of the CCPR, drug prices paid in Puerto Rico are equal to or higher than those paid in the United States. “Our health system has a limited budget, there are no infinite funds. Therefore, the role of private health insurance as financial custodians is of paramount importance. There is a role for the private sector to provide essential health services and a role for the government,” Pizarro said.
Healthy Company Program:
In order to educate about the advantages of establishing a preventive health program, which includes vaccination as the main axis of compliance, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce presented an initiative for its members called Healthy Company for Employers and Employees. It consists of a preventive health program in which employers may request the CCPR to coordinate on-the-job vaccination clinics as a joint effort of the private sector and the Department of Health, in order to reach employment centers throughout Puerto Rico. “I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce for its outstanding initiative in the development of a preventive program for companies and employees, promoting vaccination, among others. Their commitment to public health is commendable and reflects a joint effort for a healthier Puerto Rico,” said Dr. Iris Cardona.
The initiative will begin during the month of November 2023 until June 30, 2024, and will be available at the Island level. To apply for the program and coordinate vaccination clinics, members can contact the guild at: email@example.com or 787-721-6060.
“With Healthy Company, we will be facilitators in the process to complete coordination between the employer, employees, service provider, health plans, pharmacists, physicians, and the community. We are convinced that it is the first step to start helping communities from employment centers, with wellness programs, identifying health problems and providing prevention tools,” explained the executive director of the PRCC, Liza García.
Karen Garnik, APR