Free Health Insurance to Run Out Soon?

Free Health Insurance to Run Out Soon?
Free Health Insurance to Run Out Soon?

In line with the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-16), no individual should go without health insurance. Therefore, the first phase of Salamat (health) Insurance was introduced in April 2014, to cover up to 90% of a patient’s medical bills in public hospitals. Special provisions were made for people with rare diseases and those in remote areas.

Under the program, basic medical insurance coverage to those lacking health insurance, such as women heads of households, the unemployed and the poor and disabled, who account for over 10 million of the population, was extended.

Earlier in January, Persian daily ‘Iran’ quoted Pahbod Pourshabanan, deputy for human resources development at the Health Insurance Organization, as saying that “more than 80% of drugs prescribed for hard-to-treat diseases and cancers as well as some drugs for infertility treatment are covered by health insurance.”

At the recent inauguration of the Salamat Insurance Office in Noshahr county in the northern Mazandaran Province, Dr. Mohammad Javad Kabir, managing director of Health Insurance Organization, singled out the plan as “an unprecedented achievement of the healthcare system among developing countries.”

“Despite financial constraints, the government executed the plan satisfactorily and covered over 10 million people with insurance,” he said, reported IRNA.

However, he hinted that for the plan to continue smoothly, those who can afford to pay premium should be charged.

 Paying Premium

“The government’s general approach is that those who cannot afford to pay insurance premium should be identified and exempted,” he said, according to ISNA.

Nearly 91.7% of the population or 76% of those covered by Salamat insurance have a monthly income below $300 (10 million rials).

Last year when the scheme was launched, the government projected that six to eight million people would register, but the figure touched 10 million. “An estimated one to two million are still without insurance.”

The government has made great efforts to provide free insurance to the people, but for it to continue, “a proper mechanism should be set up by which premium will be charged for those who can afford to pay.” In spite of the financial shortcomings, the government has done its best to allocate funds on priority for health programs, he noted.

Meanwhile, the Management and Planning Organization has promised to reimburse 60% of the insurance organization’s budget for the first half of the year (started March 21).