KATHMANDU, May 23: A government steering committee, responsible for laying the groundwork for introduction of health insurance scheme for all the citizens, has formed a seven-member team to initiate the process of drafting the insurance policy.
The team, which is headed by Kavi Raj Khanal, undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, comprises members of the Ministry of Finance, the Health Department, the World Bank, World Health Organization, German development agency GIZ and Karuna Foundation.
“Members of donor agencies have also been included in the team so as to acquire technical support while drafting the policy,” Khanal told Republica, clarifying that the government is “not mulling over rolling out the scheme using financial support extended by donors”.
“This is a big project and we cannot ensure its sustainability if we fail to mobilize our own resources while implementing it,” Khanal said.
The government is introducing subsidized health insurance scheme for all the people as a means to raise citizens´ access to health services and widen its social safety net.
Once the program is implemented, all insured can claim for expenses like doctor fees and medical bills.
“Since the team has now received the mandate to design the scheme, it will do so in a way so that common people can reap maximum benefit,” Khanal said. “It will also propose estimated amount that the government needs to contribute every year to give continuity to the program.”
The team will also make recommendations on coverage the insurance policies should provide, claim settlement mechanism and premium amount. The team has been given two months to complete these tasks.
In the initial phase, the government plans to launch the insurance program in “few districts” as pilot projects. During this phase, it plans to rope in people living below the line of poverty.
“After these projects take off, we will be able to assess the situation on the ground and gather experience based on which certain amendments can be made to the program,” Khanal said. “We then plan to take the program to all the people living below the poverty line.”
Government estimates put the number of households living below the line of poverty at 1.3 million. This means members of these families cannot earn US$1.25 a day.
Once the government covers the poor population, it intends to include low-income group in the project. “We aim to increase the coverage gradually in this manner until all the people get health insurance coverage,” Khanal said.