Egypt: Financing healthcare for all

Mariam Amr, Friday 8 Feb 2019

Egypt’s new universal healthcare system will go into effect later this year

File Photo: Healthcare providers in Egypt

This week saw the first meeting of the board of the new Universal Healthcare Authority (UHA) headed by Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait and created to oversee the implementation of the new universal health insurance system whose first phase will go into effect in July 2019.

The new system aims to overcome glitches in the current one and to offer better medical services to the public.

This week’s meeting discussed funding for the system, and Khaled Nouri, chair of the board of the General Authority for Healthcare, told Al-Ahram Weekly that it had aimed to lay out a mechanism to make available the necessary funds for the project.

He revealed that the funding would be primarily obtained through enrolment in the medical insurance system.

People subject to the social insurance law, people working in the private sector, and Egyptians abroad will pay five per cent of their insured salary, or of their total salary stated on their tax returns, to gain coverage under the new system.

Unemployed housewives and women with unfixed incomes will pay one per cent of any income for each of their children, to a maximum of two, and 1.5 per cent for a third child.

Funding for the project will also be collected through fees added to products such as cigarettes, in addition to fees collected at toll stations and during the issuance and renewal of driving and vehicle licences.

Fees added to a packet of cigarettes, currently LE0.75, will gradually increase to LE2.5, Nouri said.

The total sums collected would be enough to launch and sustain the system, even if many people are not able to pay the premiums, estimated at 30 per cent of the total by the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

Such people’s subscriptions will be provided for in the new budget to ensure good quality healthcare for all social strata.

The new system is based on social solidarity, the provision of high-quality services, and patient satisfaction, Nouri said. A hotline will be set up to allow people to comment on the service they receive under the new system.

The new system will be implemented in six phases, the first including the governorates of Port Said, Suez, South Sinai, North Sinai and Ismailia. It will be launched in Port Said in early July.

An online system will connect each governorate’s hospitals and clinical units with patient data, while insurance cards will be issued to specify units available for treatment and check-ups.

The new system is being overseen by the UHA, the General Authority for Healthcare, and the General Authority for Accreditation and Supervision.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 February, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Financing healthcare for all

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