WILLEMSTAD, Curacao ( Friday, February 10, 20120 — AMIGOE-The public medical insurers are letting pharmacies down big time. SVB and BZV are known as bad payers for years, but now FZOG also has overdue accounts of several months. Subsequently, the pharmacies cannot pay the local medicine agencies and the shelves are empty.“The situation is serious”, says Ben Bouwhuis, board member of the Association of Pharmacy Owners (VAE). Customers are repeatedly given no for an answer. To survive, more and more pharmacies choose not to buy expensive medicines that are often given on prescription. They frequently have no choice. More and more, the agencies are demanding that the pharmacists pay in cash but the cash flow of the pharmacies is getting less and the pharmacists’ stock of medicines is running out.
“We won’t be able to buy any medicines if a solution is not found within two weeks for the overdue accounts”, says Bouwhuis. There are approximately 28 pharmacies affiliated with the VAE. That’s the majority of the pharmacists on the island.
The pharmacies and medical insurers have a mutual credit term of two months. According to Bouwhuis, FZOG has overdue accounts for four months. “We received the last payment in August. SVB is also one week late and we feel that”, says the pharmacists. The parties got together yesterday. It’s not clear to Bouwhuis why the insurers are not paying on time. “FZOG receives the money from the Ministry of Finance. If the Ministry does not transfer the money on time, they will have a problem, but so will we.”
The overdue payments do not only affect those with a public medical insurance but also those with a private insurance. “People who need more expensive medicines suffer the most. Medicines given on prescription are not readily available. There’s a fair chance that consumption date expires if these medicines stay on the shelves too long. Most of the agencies do not refund any medicines after the expiry date. Expensive medicines include Zyprexa, a medicine for psychological disorders. Oncology medicines are also very expensive. Most of the agencies give the pharmacies a credit term of two months”, says Bouwhuis.
“We have two options: borrow money or stop buying. The first option is not possible for everyone, and the second option is actually against our professional standards; there is no other option considering the current situation, says Bouwhuis.