After receiving a modified version of the health insurance bill in March, the Doctors Syndicate recognised the latest amendments of the new health insurance system and called for the amendment of pending items.
Syndicate secretary-general Mona Mina said, in a press conference on Monday, the bill was amended several times to a much improved version, yet it still has many flaws that need revision.
The latest version of the bill included a wider array of ailments that were previously excluded under the umbrella of state health insurance. This includes mental health diseases, injuries caused by natural disasters, and preventative treatment.
The authority set to monitor the new system performance has been delineated in the new version as a non-profit governmental entity.
Public healthcare facilities will also remain under the government jurisdiction and will not be privatised, according to the bill, and the state will enhance their quality in accordance with the standards set out by the new insurance system.
As for the fund for this project, the new bill amended the minimum amount for subscriptions from pensioners to only 1% of an individual’s monthly pension. The funding also required at least 3% of the GDP to be spent on the healthcare sector, in addition to taxes generated from the cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, cement factories, driving licences and other resources.
A number of articles in the bill however remain un-amended, raising concerns from the syndicate side as the Health Ministry said bill will soon be reviewed by the parliament.
The articles tackle the definition of people in need of insurance. The syndicate believes this definition should be broadened to include not only pensioners but anyone who receives below the minimum wage. The bill currently mandates health insurance for this segment to the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
Moreover, the bill fails to tackle the rights of the health insurance workers in any of its previous iterations. “No tangible success in this service will be witnessed unless the rights of its providers are ensured,” Mina said.
The syndicate also reiterates its call to create an actuarial study for the system, as an essential step towards ensuring the sustainability of the system. The only actuarial study is outdated, according to the syndicate, as it dates back to 2007. The reason for the absence of more recent studies is also linked to the lack of expertise that draws between actuarial studies and the health sector.
Minister of Health Ahmed Emad El-Din highlighted, during a meeting last Sunday with senior ministerial officials, the ministry’s upcoming action plan, which tackles 11 aspects, including the implementation of the new health insurance system.
The minister’s plan tackles the overhaul of the healthcare sector and advancing services at existing hospitals by building 135 new healthcare facilities and developing 5,314 units. According to the ministry, this will mark the first milestone in implementing the new health insurance system.
“There are about 2,558 healthcare units already renovated, while the rest are still under construction,” the ministry said in an official statement.
The new health insurance bill aims to provide health insurance to low-income citizens, making use of new medical insurance cards linked to families rather than individuals.
It will cover a new set of diseases and injuries through an authority that operates directly under the president.
The ministry will launch a quality-control authority for hospitals to be included in the new system. Only hospitals with qualified doctors who receive good salaries, high-quality infrastructure, and high-quality equipment will be included in the insurance system.
The syndicate and the health ministry have been in major disagreement recently over numerous issues, including the health insurance bill. The conflict reached a peak with the assault of two doctors at Matariya Teaching Hospital, following which the syndicate held a general assembly in mid February that resulted in a series of escalatory decisions against the ministry.