PESHAWAR: After deciding to fund the Sehat Card Plus programme, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caretaker government has released Rs4 billion to the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) for free treatment of the residents in 197 hospitals of the province.
According to health officials, more than Rs10 billion SCP payments to the hospitals are outstanding on part of the SLIC, so the government will release Rs4 billion to it every month.
They told Dawn that the programme cost Rs2.5 billion a month, while the SLIC would retain Rs1.5 billion in lieu of liabilities.
The officials said that the move would ensure the continuation of the free health insurance programme to the benefit of the residents.
They said that the SLIC, which executed the SCP on behalf of the government, would pay that amount to the hospitals at the end of every month.
Officials say govt to give away Rs4bn to State Life Insurance every month
The officials said that the chief secretary declared during a meeting on Thursday last that the Sehat Card Plus programme won’t be suspended and that the government would continue releasing payments for it on a regular basis.
He, however, ordered the health department to strengthen the monitoring of hospitals to ensure the provision of quality care in line with mutual agreements.
Meanwhile, the health department has requested the Benazir Income Support Programme to share the province’s poverty data with it for examination.
The officials said that the initiative was meant to ascertain the financial status of the SCP beneficiaries in the province.
They said that the province had so far provided free treatment to more than two million people under the programme.
The officials said that the decision about the extension of the health insurance scheme to the entire population of the province wasn’t taken overnight and instead, it came after 18 months of “hard work” of authorities and examination of the previous statistics.
They said that around 60 per cent of the province’s population lived below the poverty line and therefore, they couldn’t afford the cost of medical treatment.
The officials said that most of the people benefitting from the BISP’s financial assistance could afford minor treatments only.
They said that the health department was likely to receive the poverty data from the BISP within a month.
The officials said the caretaker government won’t disrupt the health insurance scheme as the province had already passed the Universal Health Coverage Act last year entitling its entire population to free health services both diagnosis and treatment.
They said that the programme covered three per cent of population in four districts in 2015 and it was extended first to 51, then to 70 per cent and then entire population in Nov 2019.
The officials said that the health department had received complaints from many families that they’re not covered by the programme despite being poor and deserving.
They added that authorities later decided to extend the programme to all 9.7 million families with members holding computerised national identity cards registered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The officials said the statistics showed that 36 per cent of the population wasn’t able to pay for medical treatment in case more than one family member suffered from disease(s).
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023
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