March 18, 2012

SAUDI ARABIA: Medical insurance soon for all Saudi citzens

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates / Zawya / Healthcare / March 18, 2012

MAKKAH - All Saudi citizens can be covered by medical insurance for a cost that does not exceed SR19 billion, said Dr. Fahd Al-Eneizi, chairman of the Shoura Council's medical insurance committee.

The Ministry of Health's budget is SR70 billion, he said, pointing out that citizens complain about the inability of the ministry to provide them with the necessary healthcare services.

"The ministry should play a monitoring role only and ensure the quality of healthcare services provided to citizens. It's difficult for the ministry to provide medical healthcare services and at the same time monitor the quality of these services," he said, according to a report in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Dr. Al-Eneizi said that the Health Services Council, the Ministry of Health and the Cooperative Health Insurance Council are studying a health insurance program that is expected to be implemented in the next four years.

King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, wants to protect citizens and does not want them to feel financially-burdened, Dr. Al-Eneizi added. The program will be studied well and a report will be sent to the Minister of Health and the Chairman of the Health Services Council, he added.

Free medical healthcare programs have become rare and many countries do not have them anymore, he said pointing out that in over 150 countries healthcare is provided through insurance companies.

No matter how generous direct financing is, it cannot meet all the healthcare sector's needs, he said. 

Financing through insurance is more effective and will help healthcare centers to rely on the revenue earned from insurance to operate and provide high-quality services to attract more insured people, he added.

"This approach will also make public and private hospitals compete with each other to provide the best service. 

The country will also benefit from the revenue earned by the hospitals," he added.

© The Saudi Gazette 2012
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