PESHAWAR: Around a dozen insurance companies have shown interest in securing the contract for the Sehat Sahulat Programme to provide treatment to the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from July 1 this year.
Unlike the past when only a few insurance firms participated in the bidding process for the free healthcare initiative, the representatives of around a dozen companies attended the pre-bidding conference held here on Friday.
On the occasion, health secretary Mohammad Yahya Akhunzada promised the companies a clean and transparent process for the award of contract.
He said the government wanted to complete the bidding process in line with the legal framework and extend the programme across the province from the next fiscal.
The last date to apply for bidding has been extended from March 10 to March 20 to ensure the participation of more and more insurance firms and select the best from among them.
Free healthcare initiative to be extended to entire province in next fiscal
Sources said many insurance companies had showed interest in the programme due to its success and expected high earnings.
Until now, 230,000 patients have received free treatment under the programme at a cost of Rs5.5 billion.
The programme was launched in four districts in 2016 and covers 69 per cent of the province’s population. It will begin health coverage of all 32 million residents of the province (six million families) from the next financial year.
The government has pledged Rs15 billion for it on annual basis.
Sources said the reason for the insurance companies’ keen interest in the initiative’s contract was higher profits.
The officials said under the programme, the State Life Insurance Corporation provided treatment to patients at the designated private and public sector hospitals.
They said the utilisation of the Sehat Insaf Card had so far been around four per cent, which was likely to cross the eight per cent mark due to the growing public awareness.
The officials said the government had been giving away Rs2,000 premium per year for a family of eight to the insurance firm and the amount was likely to go up as more families would benefit from the programme in its first year.
The officials claimed that the government would select the best from among many bidders and thus, benefitting the people.
SSP director Dr Mohammad Riaz Tanoli told Dawn that the representatives of the insurance companies were briefed about the programme during the pre-bidding conference and their questions were answered.
“We want to execute the programme in the next fiscal,” he said.
Dr Riaz said the government had agreed to hire technical staff on market-based salary with a view to introduce a strong mechanism for the provision of quality care to the people.
“We will select the insurance firm, hire technical staff and sign agreement with Nadra by the next April and will execute the extension plan in July,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2020