State Hospitals Now Better Equipped

Less than 4% of patients in state-owned hospitals have to leave the facility  for some essential services.Less than 4% of patients in state-owned hospitals have to leave the facility  for some essential services.

Patients’ need to seek services such as tests and imaging and buy drugs outside a state-owned hospital has declined significantly since the launch of the Health Reform Plan in 2014.

According to Mohammad Aqajani, deputy health minister for treatment, less than 4% of the 8.4 million patients are sent out of hospitals for supplementary services every year.

“This is progress because in the past nearly every patient (or accompanying relative/friend) had to go out of the hospital at least once to buy something,” he said, IRNA reported.

Based on the Health Reform Plan, state hospitals have been tasked to offer a complete package of services in the same center and avoid sending patients out.  

A complete package means access to doctors, nurses, drugs, medical equipment, laboratory tests, imaging, etc. in one place and making arrangements for patients if the hospital does not offer a certain service.

However, insurance companies’ mounting debts to public hospitals has been a major impediment to the ambitious plan.

“Insurance companies are 10 months late on their payments, which now amount to over 100 trillion rials ($2.6 billion),” Aqajani recalled. “This apparently makes it difficult for hospitals to carry out the reform plan effectively.”

In spite of the financial hurdles, hospitals have been able to reduce referrals to other facilities to a noticeable degree, but instances occur occasionally.

“With over 600 public hospitals in the country serving 8.4 million patients every year, it would be hard to claim that there are no errors and shortcomings. We are working to minimize the problems to the extent possible” he said.

To survive and improve there is no other way but to ease the financial pressure on hospitals by compelling insurance companies to pay their bills on time, the deputy minister said.

The Health Reform Plan was launched in the summer of 2014 as part of President Hassan Rouhani’s first election campaign promise (he was reelected in May for a second and last term) of health care for all Iranians by 2018 under a nationwide health insurance program.

The plan calls for, among other things, universal medical insurance for at least five million of the most vulnerable people (not already insured).

It also seeks to ensure that hospitals can provide all essential services.

Implementation of the plan, as independent evaluations show, has resulted in 75% greater public satisfaction with healthcare services and reduced out of pocket payment to 10%.

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