PHILIPSBURG--Health Minister Cornelius de Weever had asked the Supervisory Board of Social and Health Care Insurance SZV to investigate how the funds from the ZV sickness insurance are being spent.
De Weever said he had asked for the investigation "a couple of months ago" after receiving reports "of people spending eight to nine months in Colombia" and "people going to Colombia, shopping and bringing back things from Colombia to sell."
Asked whether these were being done on SZV's tab the minister responded affirmatively.
Government currently owes the ZV fund, which has been operating in the red for years, NAf. 115 million in premiums for co-insurance, AVBZ contributions and fund shortages. The ZV fund registered a deficit of NAf. 11,199,000 in 2013, which was about six million guilders lower than the deficit the fund registered the year prior in 2012.
De Weever told reporters at the Council of Ministers' press briefing on Wednesday that government had been "closely monitoring" the situation at SZV and had been working with SZV and the supervisory board.
"It was during a meeting that I asked the board to set up a committee to investigate the management of the ZV funds and to see how they are being spent and if it's being spent correctly," De Weever said. "Yes, government does have a portion of that and the Minister of Finance is dealing with that portion of the payment to SZV, but there are other internal issues with the medical referrals that have to be addressed."
He said reports are being received and are being passed on to the board. "They have to act on it and decide how they will address these issues internally. The CFO (Chief Financial Officer) also has to look into it and make sure that these funds are managed properly... We can't just look at one thing and say that's what it is. We have to look at the entire situation."
SZV's 2013 financial report shows that the ZV sickness fund ended the last calendar year with a deficit of NAf. 11,199,000; the FZOG fund (for retired civil servants) was in the red by NAf. 1,838,000 and the Cessantia Fund ended negatively by NAf. 176,000. The Cessantia fund ended the year in the red, primarily due to the NAf. 1.4 million pay-out to the former Pelican workers this year, which had been budgeted in 2013.
Registering a surplus at the end of 2013, were the AVBZ fund (for persons with chronic illnesses), which ended the year with NAf. 12,569,000 in its accounts and the AOV general pension fund, which ended the year with NAf. 51,184,000 on its books. The general picture shows that an overall surplus of NAf. 50,540,000 has been registered with SZV at the end of 2013.
The minister said on Wednesday that the cessantia fund currently has a reserve of just over 10 million and noted that a profit is generally recorded annually.
Asked what his ideas were for a structural solution for the deficit of in particular the ZV and FZOG funds, De Weever said government had already started to address this issue since last year. He said too that legislation had been passed regarding this issue and noted that a proposal is on the table from Finance Minister Martin Hassink regarding the NAf. 115 million government owes SZV. The minister has made his comments on the proposal, which is being reviewed. However, there are concerns about the proposal, which has to be discussed internally before it can proceed, De Weever said. He said too that, based on Government Accounts Bureau SOAB, "we know areas that need improvement so we are also addressing those as well."
According to the minister, SZV had a right to negotiate in the interest of the insurance service provider, but seldom uses this right. "So even if they wanted to negotiate with St. Maarten Medical Center, and say, "Hey you know that you are not providing up-to-par service for my clients" they have a right to take SMMC to court and make sure that whatever needs to be done gets done. So SZV has a lot more authority than they think they do, but it's not always utilized, and I think that all these things have to change."
According to De Weever, a new Interim Change Manager will be arriving in August to help with the restructuring of the insurance service provider.
"They have the ESZV, where they would like to see SZV go in the future - it's a great plan, a great road map, it looks good, but if we don't have a year plan and if we don't have a department plan and [know – Ed.] what we are trying to achieve per department and improvements that need to be made, then this will create [a situation – Ed.] where you are just doing things ad hoc."