‘Driver of the econ­omy’

Times of Oman - - OMAN -

“In the Sul­tanate, spend­ing on health costs about 3 per cent of the na­tional in­come; how­ever, more spend­ing does not mean bet­ter qual­ity. There are coun­tries which have in­creased spend­ing on health­care, but have wit­nessed a drop in qual­ity. We have to make sure we ad­dress that in our reg­u­la­tions,” he said.

Ab­dul­lah Salim Al Salmi, ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent, Cap­i­tal Markets Author­ity (CMA), said: “Health in­sur­ance helps in pro­vid­ing high qual­ity med­i­cal ser­vices to residents and is a ma­jor driver of the econ­omy. There has been an in­crease in med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and also an in­crease in the cost of med­i­cal. Our ma­jor chal­lenge is to im­ple­ment high qual­ity ser­vices with less costs by draft­ing con­crete reg­u­la­tions. The proposal has been adopted to start manda­tory health in­sur­ance.”

Dr. Waleed Al Zad­jali, pres­i­dent of the Oman Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “Treat­ment in the govern­ment health sec­tor is al­most free, and peo­ple are in­sured. It (health in­sur­ance) is by law manda­tory, but it is not im­ple­mented 100 per cent. But next year from Jan­uary it is go­ing to be made manda­tory for all firms and health in­sur­ance should be well or­gan­ised.”

Health Pol­icy

“My ad­vice is to have the Na­tional Health Pol­icy, which pro­tects pa­tients, doc­tors, and also health ser­vice providers. This hasn’t started yet but is un­der dis­cus­sion. The pol­icy is an international pol­icy re­lated to health in­sur­ance. For ex­am­ple, dif­fer­ent in­sur­ance com­pa­nies have their own guide­lines and poli­cies, but we need a min­i­mum re­quire­ment that should be a stan­dard among all the in­sur­ances to be cov­ered. As a na­tional in­sur­ance, it will cover and pro­tect all.”

Ahmed Al Hooti, mem­ber of Oman Cham­ber of Com­merce, said: “I think it should start with com­pa­nies that are ready to im­ple­ment health in­sur­ance be­cause if we look at SMEs, we know that they barely make prof­its to have the lux­ury of pro­vid­ing their em­ploy­ees with in­sur­ance cover.”

“I think the idea is good to of­fer qual­ity health­care to em­ploy­ees, but the im­ple­men­ta­tion must be in phases.”

“There has been an in­fla­tion of 5 per cent in health in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums from 2015-2016 in Oman,” Steve Cle­ments, di­rec­tor at Wil­lis Tow­ers Watson said.

Robin Ali, head of Prac­tice at Con­silient, helped other states im­ple­ment reg­u­la­tions, and be­lieves reg­u­la­tion is the big­gest chal­lenge for the whole health in­sur­ance law.

“There are four challenges to im­ple­ment­ing health in­sur­ance, which in­clude a reg­u­la­tory role, pol­icy and pre and post im­ple­men­ta­tion challenges. If the poli­cies are not prop­erly stated, com­pa­nies will find a way to go around them,” he said.

“We are happy to hear this as since the start of this year our com­pa­nies have de­nied re­new­ing our health in­sur­ance, cit­ing bad mar­ket con­di­tions. It is a real strug­gle when you don’t get the right ben­e­fits. It’s like not hav­ing peace about it,” Alok Me­hta, a res­i­dent of Oman for last five years, said.

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