New medical charges on St Helena mean UK visitors must pay 2,000 per cent more than islanders for dental care.
The cost of a consultation for expats from the UK will rise by 150%, from £21 to £52.50. Expats from non-UK countries already pay the higher rate.
Tourists should be covered by travel insurance.
Prescription fees for St Helenians will go up by 12.5% when the new charges come in on 1 July 2012, from £1.75 to £2.00.
St Helena Government (SHG) says the increases will help to fund subsidised care for Saints on lower incomes. The island’s average salary has been quoted at just £4,000 a year.
But island commentator John Turner says the new charges “intentionally discriminate against contractors working here… unless they work for SHG.”
He cites the two levels of charges:
group 1 includes Saints who are normally resident on St Helena, the Falklands or Ascension. They will be entitled to heavily subsidised care;
group 2 is “everybody else” – liable to be charged the full cost of their care.
But he says expats working for SHG will pay the same rates as islanders. “SHG has taken aim at the private sector,” says John – who came to the island as the first bank manager but how has St Helenian status.
The Health and Social Welfare Directorate said its review of costs “was to ensure a balanced service from 1 July 2012, with those on lower incomes not being excluded from medical or dental care because of costs, and those who are able to pay for these services paying.”
SHG says doubling charges for UK residents is “simpler”.
It says that despite the increase, “each prescription continues to be subsided by over 50%, with the average cost of a prescription actually being £4.72 per item.
“Persons currently exempt from paying medical fees and charges are not affected by these increases.”
Random Thoughts From Offshore – John Turner’s blog
Existing fees for UK visitors
Existing frees for visitors not from the UK
Existing fees for St Helenians – not currently available on the SHG website (20 June 2012).