IMF urges Jordan to restructure healthcare budget

Jordan aims to achieve “universal health coverage” by 2030

Doctor Doctors hospital
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN – On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested that the Jordanian government can “consider enhancing healthcare revenues” by modifying insurance premiums and cost-sharing. They also called for a strategy to be developed for good, affordable, and sustainable healthcare in the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

In a new report titled “Health Spending Efficiency: Issues and Reform Directions”, the IMF pointed out “medium-term pressures on healthcare spending” in Jordan. The IMF indicated that these pressures are caused by rising healthcare costs and coverage of expenses for elderly citizens with chronic diseases, in addition to providing subsidized healthcare for 1.3 million Syrian refugees, Al-Mamlaka TV reported.

It confirmed that Jordan has strong health outcomes in several health indicators, however, the Jordanian healthcare system is under pressure due to rising healthcare costs. Jordan tends to focus its budget on hospitals and drugs and less on primary healthcare.

Jordan aims to achieve “universal health coverage” by 2030. It faces “limited fiscal space” while aspiring to enhance its healthcare services and coverage in a cost-effective manner, emphasizing that this requires finding efficiency in healthcare spending to support a sustainable agenda for universal health coverage.

The IMF has suggested that the government can “consider enhancing healthcare revenues” by modifying insurance premiums, cost-sharing, and updating the affordable price imposed on medical services. It explained that “a package of low-cost health benefits is being developed that should be implemented and maintained consistent with financial sustainability”.

The report reviewed public health spending in Jordan and provided options to enhance spending efficiency that support the government’s efforts in the health sector and regulate public finances.

The IMF has emphasized that "the authorities should work to achieve a continuous balance between the financial sustainability of the healthcare sector to ensure its ability to maintain and improve the services provided, with the need to target health coverage gaps more tightly over time.

“In the medium term, expanding coverage should be based on the potential for implementing a low-cost program and supporting it with a strategy to enhance primary healthcare and other reforms,” according to the IMF, which emphasized that “reforms should include improving efficiency and effectiveness in expanding the scope of primary healthcare, with a focus on incentivizing hospitals and enabling them to make changes to improve efficiency.”

It has also emphasized that in the short term, a realistic and sustainable path for healthcare spending should be developed, implemented, and managed jointly by the Ministries of Finance and Health to achieve efficient spending.

The government has allocated approximately JD766.4 million to the Ministry of Health in the 2024 budget, an increase of about JD65 million dinars compared to 2023. Current expenditures amounted to JD671.5 million, an increase of JD41 million, of which JD20 million was growth in salaries and wages and filling vacancies. Capital expenditures amounted to JD95 million, an increase of about JD24 million, of which JD10 million was allocated to the Princess Basma Hospital project in Irbid.

The IMF has focused on providing support in analyzing comprehensive healthcare spending, supporting Qatari efforts to develop and implement a low-cost path to expand healthcare coverage, and identifying areas that the Ministry of Finance can build and support reform efforts.

Regarding insurance premiums, a committee was formed by Minister of Health, Firas Al-Hawari, in September 2023 to make the necessary recommendations.

The committee was formed after a dispute over doctors’ salary scale after the Jordanian Doctors Syndicate Council had announced the suspension of an insurance case, scheduled for September 2 until the committee’s work was completed. It includes the Doctors Syndicate and representatives from the Jordan Insurance Federation, the National Society for Consumer Protection, the Jordanian Association for Health Insurance, the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, and the Medical Bill Advocacy Committee.

The revenue of the medical insurance fund amounted to JD185 million, an increase of JD5 million from the revised estimate in 2023. It is noted that the estimated value is the same in 2023, and the fund achieved JD180 million. While current expenditures amounted to JD184.7 million, an increase of about JD5 million was allocated from the fund’s revenues of JD70 million.

Hawari said during a parliamentary meeting that the ministry’s budget witnessed an increase in capital expenditures, where the budget is “the highest it has ever seen and contributes to the progress of the ministry’s plans and programs.” This indicates the expansion of health insurance and ease of access to treatment in emergency departments in private hospitals and a decrease in the number of transfers to private sector hospitals by 45 percent due to the lack of beds or the absence of specialized treatment.

The ministry has also introduced new services, including implementing more than 7,000 catheterization procedures, more than 530 open-heart surgeries, and 1,000 procedures for blood vessels, as well as quality operations in nerves, spine, and eyes.

Read more National news
Jordan News