The Ministry of Health is seeking to stay on track in its plan to implement the new universal health insurance system (UHI), recently announcing it would soon introduce the plan to Luxor governorate. The system, which saw some setbacks because of Covid-19, was first launched in pilot form in Port Said in July 2019. It sets out to provide health coverage for all citizens in the country, including vulnerable groups who will be subsidised by the government.
Ahmed Al-Sobki, head of the General Authority for Health Care and director of the health insurance project, has reviewed final preparations in hospitals, health centres and medical units in Luxor to guarantee they are prepared to launch the trial phase of the new health insurance system in the governorate.
“More than 700,000 citizens of Luxor governorate, representing around 47 per cent of the governorate’s population, have been registered in the system,” Al-Sobki said. A total LE7.3 billion were spent on the construction and refurbishing of hospitals, health units and health centres that will offer the service in the Upper Egyptian governorate, he added.
According to Al-Sobki, the trial for the system in Luxor includes dividing the governorate into seven health directorates. Within them, 67 health establishments will include 59 health centres and units, in addition to eight hospitals equipped according to international standards to guarantee comprehensive, professional and decent medical services.
Luxor is the second of six governorates where the new health insurance system will be set up during the first phase of launching; Port Said was the first. The first group of governorates includes Ismailia, South Sinai, Suez, and Aswan. In Port Said two million medical services, including more than 100,000 surgeries, have been provided to more than 600,000 citizens who are registered under the new system in the governorate.
Al-Sobki said the system is ready for all possible scenarios in the midst of the pandemic. “The service did not and will not be disrupted during the pandemic. Treating patients suffering from Covid-19 was covered by the new system for Port Said citizens,” Al-Sobki told Al-Ahram Weekly. He said a comprehensive plan was drawn up to fight the coronavirus in Port Said hospitals affiliated to the Healthcare Authority. “One hospital was chosen to receive cases suspected of having the virus and other hospitals were selected to isolate confirmed cases,” he said.
The comprehensive Health Insurance System Law (Law 2/2018) announced by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi covers all Egyptians and can be extended to Egyptians abroad. The General Health Insurance Authority would be responsible for the administration and financing of the system while the Health Ministry offers health and treatment services in and outside hospitals.
According to Khaled Megahed, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, under the new system, the government will grant its medical services to limited income brackets who cannot pay for it. “This new system will provide citizens the chance to enjoy healthcare at the hospital they select, thus unleashing competition among the private, governmental and military hospitals which will be included in the new system,” Megahed said.
The new health insurance system covers all medical services for beneficiaries and their families, from initial medical examinations, to radiology and medical analysis, X-rays, and scans, to major and medical interventions such as surgery.
The system is being gradually implemented in six phases, from 2018 to 2032. Priority has been given to governorates with the lowest income citizens. It will be implemented in Cairo during its sixth and final phase.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly