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PHA, ministry agreement is seen as beneficial by some, costly by others

health insurance
(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — The health insurance agreement, provisionally reached by the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) and the Ministry of Health is seen by some medical experts and commentators as a step toward raising the cost of treatment for subscribers, making it on par with that at private hospitals.اضافة اعلان

The agreement is still in the process of being amended; once approved by Parliament, it will stipulate that public servants subscribed in the second and third class insurance may be treated at private hospitals in case of emergency.

Insurance and social protection expert Mousa Al-Subaihi told Jordan News that the proposed amendment could lead to the privatization of the entire medical sector.

In case they resort to private hospital treatment, said Subaihi, citizens will end up paying “an additional charge, as they would have to pay 20 percent of the medical bill, and this could be the beginning of privatization and a transitional period to move toward it”.

He said that the amendment could be temporary, until public hospitals are upgraded and have all specializations available.

MP Fareed Haddad agrees that this step will make the cost for citizen higher, similar to that charged by the private health sector.

“If a patient wants to get medical care at a private hospital, he might also need to do some medical checkups and will ending up paying much money,” he said, adding: “Some say that this agreement will create a sense of justice, but what justice are they talking about? Is this insurance similar to the insurance of ministers and MPs?"

Haddad also said the pressure private hospitals will experience as a result of this agreement will make them draw on much-needed medical staff from public hospitals.

Coordinator of “Our health is a right” (Sehatona haq) campaign Mousa Al-Azab told Jordan News that “there is fear that signing this agreement will lead to the privatization of the medical sector, and that this is an admission of the Ministry of Health that it will abandon providing good services to the insured, and that it does not have the full competence and ability to do so”.

Azab added that the agreement is “also a real insult to the Ministry of Health hospitals, a good number of which “we should look after”.

The agreement, he said, will also reduce the drive toward developing the infrastructure of hospitals and the opportunity to train medical health staff, and is reached “at the expense of the Health Insurance Fund, which already suffers from a large deficit and needs urgent support”.

Azab added: “We are not against developing private sector hospitals, but against this being at the expense of the Ministry of Health and the improvement of public hospitals.”

“Ostensibly, this agreement serves the insured, but in fact, these people will have to pay large sums that they need, for services provided by private sector hospitals,” he added.

PHA President Fawzi Hammouri told Jordan News that those who object the amendment do not wish to achieve justice among the beneficiaries of the public health insurance and want to keep these benefits for senior officials of first and special degrees, including MPs, senators and ministers.

He said that employees of second- and third-level insurance contribute to the budget of the health insurance fund in the same proportion; “3 percent of the employee’s salary is deducted from the employees of all grades, with a ceiling of 30 dinars.”

“If the objectors aimed to defend the Ministry of Health, why did they not demand the abolition of first-class and special privileges,” he asked.

Hammouri added that “unfortunately, everyone who opposes it thinks of himself and his gains. Some doctors working at the Ministry of Health fear for their incentives, even though the minister of health confirmed that this agreement will not affect their incentives”.

According to Ministry of Health studies, the amendment to the agreement will have an approximate cost of JD3 million, he said, “and this is a small number if compared to the benefits that the second and third degree insured will enjoy emergency cases”.

“To those who say that this agreement is an initial step to privatizing the health sector we did not ask for it, and the government has no intention of doing so especially since it is building new hospitals and expanding the existing ones, so how can it have the intention to privatize the sector?”

Once approved, the amended agreement will give insured public sector employees access to 50 private hospitals across the Kingdom According to Minister of Health Feras Hawari, 1.1 million Jordanians will benefit from the agreement they will only be required to cover 20 percent of the cost of private sector hospitalization.

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