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Saturday, 17 April 2021

Egypt's new health insurance system gains momentum

The Universal Health Insurance system is being rolled out faster than originally planned

Reem Leila , Thursday 25 Feb 2021
Health insurance gains momentum
Health insurance gains momentum
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The first seven surgical operations in Ismailia governorate under the umbrella of the new Universal Health Insurance (UHI) system, from a cesarean delivery to treating a fractured thigh bone, have taken place at the Ismailia Medical Complex.

The first phase of the healthcare scheme is being implemented in Ismailia, Port Said, Suez, South Sinai, Luxor, and Aswan governorates. Initially planned to cover the whole of Egypt by 2032, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi announced last week that every effort is being exerted to complete the nationwide rollout in 10, rather than 15, years.

The new system was inaugurated in Ismailia on 16 February and will eventually offer 2,300 medical procedures to the governorate’s citizens. Medical services will be provided through 12 hospitals, 20 health centres, and 34 health units. Ahmed Al-Sobki, head of the General Organisation for Comprehensive Health Insurance, told Al-Ahram Weekly the medical services package provided by the new health insurance system will cover surgery, analysis, radiology, tumor treatment, organ transplants, prosthetic devices, visual and audio aids, dental treatment, therapeutic foods and other supplements, using the latest treatments and internationally approved medicines.

Al-Sobki says there is no ceiling for spending on medical services in the new system, and that it allows those who cannot be treated in Egypt to travel abroad for treatment at the government’s expense.

Ismailia is the first governorate in the first phase rollout where the number of citizens registered in the system surpasses one million. According to Al-Sobki, 84 per cent of the governorate’s 1,370,806 citizens have so far registered.

Hospitals operating under the health insurance umbrella have been upgraded to meet the UHI’s system control and quality standards.

Khaled Megahed, official spokesman at the Ministry of Health and Population, said the cost of implementing the new health insurance system in the four governorates of Port Said, Luxor, South Sinai, and Ismailia is estimated at LE23 billion, of which LE10 billion has been earmarked for improving the infrastructure, medical and non-medical equipment in Ismailia, LE9.6 billion to upgrade medical facilities in Luxor, and LE3.3 billion in South Sinai.

“The new UHI system will be applied in the remaining two governorates of the first phase, Aswan and Suez within the coming few months,” said Megahed. It was piloted in Port Said governorate in the summer of 2019 and has so far provided more than three million medical services to beneficiaries.

The program is expected to be rolled out in the rest of the governorates in the first phase this year.

In Luxor, where 67 per cent of the governorate’s 1.27 million citizens have registered, medical services will be offered by seven hospitals, 59 health units and a family health centre. In South Sinai, 85 per cent of the governorate’s 103,800 residents have registered in the new system.

In May 2021, the system will be launched in Aswan governorate at an estimated cost of LE12.3 billion, and is scheduled to launch in Suez in June 2021.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 February, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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