Public servants to receive broader private emergency coverage

Minister of Health Firas Al-Hawari. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Minister of Health Firas Al-Hawari said on Sunday that the ministry is in the process of amending its health insurance agreement with the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) to incorporate public servants subscribed in the second and third class insurance into private medical care in the event of emergencies.اضافة اعلان

Once signed, the amended agreement would give insured public sector employees access to 50 private hospitals across the Kingdom. Patients “would need less time to find the nearest hospital to (their) residence or workplace,” according to PHA President Fawzi Hammouri.

Hammouri said that the government’s agreement with the PHA was signed in 2008, giving only first-class insured public sector employees access to private hospitals, but since then, the agreement has not been modified. “The proposed amendment would achieve fairness and equality among the various classes.”

Moreover, the government’s proposed annex to the agreement with the PHA would help relieve pressures on public hospitals emergency rooms, especially “in light of increased complaints by citizens of the poor quality service at public hospitals,” according to Hammouri.

One major complaint by patients who may need transfer to a private hospital is a government instruction that requires the patient to present an official letter signed by a special committee approving the referral. Oftentimes, the letter is late to be issued, or the patient’s request is rejected, forcing the patient to cover the medical care cost at their personal expense, especially when other medical care options are not available.

Hammouri proposed that this provision of the agreement be reviewed to give patients an immediate referral approval to expedite admission to a private hospital.

Insurance and social protection expert Mousa Al-Subaihi told Jordan News that he was fully supportive of the proposed amendment, “as long as it does not lead to the privatization of public hospitals.” He said that the amendment should be temporary until public hospitals have been upgraded and all specializations are available.

Subaihi also urged the establishment of a special department that handles all issues related to health insurance, including matters pertaining to subscribers and service providers.

The agreement will benefit 1.1 million Jordanians, who will only be required to cover 20 percent of the cost of private sector hospitalization, according to Hawari, who said “the aim of the agreement is provide citizens with best care at low cost”.

Hawari denied that the government has any intention to privatize the health sector, adding that recent incidents that occurred in emergency rooms of public hospitals have prompted the ministry to find alternative solutions that help reduce overcrowding at some of the public hospitals.

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