Medical Waiver Initiative for Low-Income Women, Girls, Elderly, and Persons with Disabilities Lacking Health Insurance Democratizes Access to Essential Health Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—In late 2022, the Honorable Marcus Samo—Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs—and his staff, signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Departments of Health across Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae to signify a shared commitment to advancing social protection measures for the Nation’s most vulnerable citizens. The formal product of these Memoranda of Understanding is the provision of medical waivers for citizens without medical insurance. It is the intent of the FSM Government that this scheme will be of particular benefit to persons and families who are economically disadvantaged, as well as persons with disabilities, children, the elderly, and those who have experienced gender-based violence and/or sexual violence.

The Medical Waiver Initiative is a continuation of the social protection programming designed by His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM. The program is largely funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through ADB’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO) under the ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility.

“This is a milestone moment for our Nation,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “As it helps to ensure that cost is not a barrier in accessing medical care, particularly for those who are marginalized or economically disenfranchised.”

Persons wishing to use and/or obtain medical waivers must register at their state hospital. Only persons without medical insurance are eligible for medical waivers. State Governments will ensure that the scheme is accessible to low-income persons with a disability who lack health insurance; low-income elderly/senior citizens, defined as 65 years and older, who lack health insurance; low-income women and girls who lack health insurance; and low-income children, defined as under 18 years old, who lack health insurance.

Representing Secretary Samo in the signing ceremonies were Mr. Stuard Penias, Assistant Secretary of Social Affairs, and Acting Administrative Officer Ms. Fancelynn Perman, and support staff.