KATHMANDU, Feb 7: The government is soon dispatching teams to take stock of situation in five districts where it is launching pilot projects on universal health insurance -- a subsidized social security scheme that the state plans to roll out throughout the country.
If things go as planned, the process of appointing surveyors would begin as early as next week, said Kavi Raj Khanal, under secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, which is taking the lead in implementing health insurance schemes in the country.
“Once this is done, we will immediately put them (surveyors) on the field to collect samples,” Khanal said.
The government is launching pilot programs on universal health insurance in Ilam, Sarlahi, Baglung, Banke and Kailali districts. The pilot programs are being rolled out to assess the viability of the plan to provide subsidized healthcare services to the public nationwide.
“We hope the surveys that we are conducting would help us in designing comprehensive insurance schemes that are effective in reducing burden on people who are spending huge amount of money on healthcare,” Khanal said.
Upon completion of the survey, the government expects to have updated figure on the state of hospitals and health centers in those districts. “The surveys will also shed more light on the number of medicine practitioners available in those districts, and types of health-related complaints and diseases that are regularly reported,” Khanal informed.
The government is trying to introduce universal health insurance for the first time in the country to increase people´s access to affordable healthcare services.
Once the insurance program is launched it is expected to reduce the burden posed by often huge healthcare bills, which tends to put a dent on household spending in education, good nutrition and other forms of consumption.
The government is currently mulling over slapping an annual premium of Rs 2,000 on each family to provide free healthcare services throughout the year. Although it had earlier floated the idea of providing healthcare coverage of up to Rs 50,000 per year per family through the premium amount, it is currently revising the figure.
However, it has said people living below the poverty line would be exempted from the premium charge. And healthcare services that are currently being offered for free will continue to remain free.
To launch these schemes, the government has also proposed formation of an autonomous National Health Insurance Fund, which will be affiliated to the health ministry.
The Fund, which will also work as the Insurance Pool, among others, will mobilize and allocate resources, develop healthcare packages and claim settlement mechanism, rope in service providers in the scheme, monitor implementation of schemes and settle disputes.