The Cabinet, by its Decision, gave approval for the implementation of the JAIP to include:
- the engagement of an Actuary to conduct a study to inform the final benefits and terms and conditions of the JAIP, and
- the procurement of the services of a life/health insurance provider/broker to carry the JAIP.
The National Sport Policy (2013) outlines the Government’s intention to create an environment which facilitates the health, wellness, security, and social protection, safety and prosperity of all athletes. The Policy further recognizes and acknowledges the outstanding contributions which national athletes make to the positive image of Jamaica and the enhancement of Brand Jamaica. The National Sport Policy commits the Government of Jamaica to pursue the establishment and maintenance of a sustainable health and life insurance, pension/annuity and retirement plan for all eligible national athletes.
During the process of developing the National Sport Policy, eleven consultations were held between May 11 and June 6, 2012. Approximately 264 persons from 210 organizations, including the major stakeholders in the Sport sector and community groups, were part of this process. While recognising that the Sport Development Foundation has a provision for athlete welfare, a recurring appeal during the consultations was for the Government to place urgent attention to the provision of insurance coverage for our athletes. This recommendation was incorporated in the National Sport Policy as a critical policy issue that the Government would seek to address. In this regard, the Office of the Prime Minister commenced work on the development of a health and life insurance plan for national athletes.
Jamaica has forty-two (42) National Sport Associations and Federations from which twenty-eight (28) sporting disciplines, inclusive of team sports, represent Jamaica at the international level. All athletes who represent Jamaica must be recognized by their National Sport Association or Federation. Currently, there are 2,714 athletes that are within the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s (JADCO’s) database of national athletes who represent Jamaica at the international level.
The nature of the activities in which an athlete is involved, whether during training or competition, increases his/her risk of injury. Athletes need to have well-conditioned bodies and be injury free in order to perform at their highest level, as it is their performance which determines their career path.
Whilst some of the athletes who represent Jamaica at the international level receive endorsements, sponsorship and other monetary benefits from corporate entities or as rewards at sporting events or meets, many of them are either secondary or tertiary level students and require additional support in order to continue to participate in the various disciplines. Some receive a level of financial support which helps in the development of their career as athletes, but this support is often not sustained financing and does not necessarily translate to the athlete being able to access health related services that provide injury management or rehabilitation from injury.
The provision of a health insurance plan for athletes will therefore allow them to access health and life insurance benefits to address illness and sport-related injuries, and will assist in prolonging the athlete’s career.