Annual amount of free healthcare services raised

Updated December 09, 2018

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14m families are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country. — Dawn/File
14m families are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Saturday enhanced the annual amount of free of cost quality indoor healthcare services from Rs300,000 to Rs720,000 per family.

Presiding over a bids opening ceremony for provision of Sehat Cards across the country, Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordina­tion Aamir Mehmood Kiani vowed to make all-out efforts to provide the best possible facilities to the poor segment of society as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Upon completion of the programme’s implementation, 14 million families (approximately 80m individuals) are expected to be enrolled and benefiting from it in all districts of the country.

The minister said through the Health Cards, the families living below the poverty line of $2 per day will be provided with financial protection against extraordinary health care expenditure.

“A wide range of both medical and surgical indoor services, including heart surgeries, stents, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, dialysis, maternity and other medical and surgical services, are included in the scheme,” he said.

Financial bids of insurance companies were ope­ned on the occasion in the presence of media. The State Life Insurance Corporation (Slic) again won the contract of the Sehat Cards for the next three years.

The government had shortlisted Slic, Jubilee Life Insu­rance, Adamjee Insu­rance Company and Alfalah Insurance Consortium for the second phase of the programme. The programme will be introduced in Tharparkar district with the federal government’s funding as Sindh refused to join it.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had launched the programme on Dec 31, 2015, for Islamabad and described it as a first step towards making Pakistan a welfare state.

Under the programme a family gets Rs50,000 for secondary care treatment which begins as soon as a patient is hospitalised. It includes most of diseases, including maternity. Moreover, each family can get treatment of Rs250,000 under the category of priority diseases which includes cancer, accident, burn injuries, diabetic complications, heart bypass and infections.

Families which earn less than $2 per day are entitled for the registration.

Talking to Dawn, Scheme Director Dr Faisal Rifaq said that 65 per cent weightage was given to technical capacity and 35pc to financial bid. “Slic won the bid as its overall points of technical and financial aspects were the best,” he said.

“Slic has been selected, but its bid will be approved by the Steering Committee of the Sehat Cards, which is represented by four provinces, the ministries of finance, planning and law and justice and the Benazir Income Support Programme (Bisp).

After getting the app­roval, the agreement will be placed on the Public Procur­e­ment Regulatory Author­ity’s website for a fortnight and after that it will be signed with Slic,” he said.

In reply to a question, Dr Rifaq said that under the existing scheme the financial limit is Rs300,000, as premium is paid as per former limit, but after completion of the year the limit will be enhanced to Rs720,000.

“However in new schemes, which will be launched in different districts during the next year, the medical limits will be enhanced. Over all 14m families or 80m individuals will be covered during the next three years.

However, after a survey of Bisp, new families which will be identified as earning less than $2 per day will also be included in the scheme,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018