Rehab Care a Luxury Few Can Afford
Rehabilitation is not a luxury to be disregarded by those who are in need of it. It is at times so critical that it cannot be facilitated without professional assistance. This factor highlights the absurdity of the lack of insurance coverage for rehab care in Iran. The truth is not only the disabled but accident-stricken people and those with rare diseases require rehabilitation in the process of recuperation. In many cases, the problem gets exacerbated if monetary assistance is not provided in a timely manner, Alef reports.
Iran is one of the pioneers of the community-based rehabilitation (CBR) program in the world, says deputy of rehabilitation department at the Social Security Organization (SSO) Yahya Sokhangooyi. “Since 1993 when the pilot CBR program started in Semnan Province, it has expanded to at least one town in each province and so far has covered 75% of the rural population benefitting 14 million people.”
Sokhangooyi added that the program has identified and covered 304,759 disabled individuals in the most remote and deprived rural areas in 333 towns of 31 provinces. “Those under the SSO cover receive the services free of charge.” Although 99,000 people receive 24-hour rehabilitation services at daily centers and homes, the rising number with impairment on the one hand, and the crucial need to recover on the other, has increased the demand for care services. Currently 4200 disabled people are receiving CBR, said Dr. Seyed Taghi Nourbakhsh, the CEO and Managing Director of the SSO.
Lack of insurance cover prevents people from seeking rehabilitation services hindering this important aspect of healthcare in the country, said Dr. Ramin Kordi, head of Noor Afshar Hospital, the first rehabilitation and sports medicine hospital in Iran.
Kordi stressed that unity is one of the key factors to obtain insurance cover. “All rehabilitation-associated groups and organizations such as the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), the State Welfare Organization (SWO), universities, and hospitals throughout the country must function cohesively.”
He maintained that lack of a specific rehabilitation authority is a major issue which can be resolved by establishing a CBR organization. Kordi said he had proposed the idea to the Minister of Health and Medical Education Hassan Hashemi.
The rehabilitation equipment promised by the SWO was supposed to be free or provided at a discount for the disabled, but never took shape, says Mahmood Kari, head of the board of directors at the Iranian Handicapped Society. “The maintenance cost of the differently-abled people is high for insurance organizations and they do not qualify coverage since they were insured subsequent to their disability,” he pointed out.
Insurance is an economic investment, said Siamak Moreh Sedgh, a member of the Majlis Health Commission. “A person pays insurance premium and the investment profit pays for potential future expenses. However, this does not happen in our country as there is no defined budget source and ruins any chance of cooperation between organizations and insurance programs. As a result, insurance-associated services are a costly luxury,” he added.