JEDDAH — The Health Ministry has authorized 110 of 270 its hospitals to provide health insurance services to Saudis as well as expatriates.
Saudi men, their wives and children need not bear any portion of the treatment cost known as deductibles that they pay at private hospitals.
Under the new system, which the ministry has started implementing, the deductible sum would be borne by the insurance company, Al-Madina Arabic daily reported, adding that insured citizens would also receive dental and eye care.
“The whole project will be implemented in phases,” said Mishaal Al-Rubaiaan, spokesman for the ministry. “It will be applied on the remaining 160 public hospitals within four years. The project will empower public hospitals and reduce cost of insurance firms,” he said.
“The ministry’s hospitals will be providing health services to all citizens equally without looking at the type of insurance cards they hold,” Al-Rubaiaan told Al-Madina. “There will not be any shortage in the quality of service depending on the type of card – gold or silver.”
He said the insurance companies provide such a service on the basis of an agreement they have signed with the Health Ministry. The project will allow the ministry’s hospitals to receive money from insurance companies for providing treatment to insured Saudis and expats.
Al-Rubaiaan said expats should pay the deductible amounts fully to the hospital while guest workers who have not insured should pay the full treatment cost in cash.
“The ministry has signed deals with 18 insurance companies as well as with the General Organization for Social Insurance to cover vocational accidents,” he said.
He stressed that public hospitals have improved their services by acquiring modern health facilities and appointing well-qualified doctors and nurses. “We make optimum use of manpower and equipment at our hospitals,” he explained.
An operation room now conducts four to five surgeries a day against two to three in the past. The ministry has introduced a new system to ensure availability of hospital beds for new patients by reducing treatment period to three to four days, depending on the condition.
“This system has been instrumental in reducing the waiting period for patients to get admission to hospitals for specialized treatment and to receive appointments with doctors. This has also improved operational efficiency of doctors,” Al-Rubaiaan explained.
Abdul Aziz Al-Khereiji, a member of the National Insurance Committee, welcomed the ministry’s move to provide health insurance services through its hospitals across the country. “It will help public hospitals to get additional income,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Al-Hussein, secretary-general of the Cooperative Health Insurance Council, spoke about a meeting organized by the council with insurance companies and health service providers to discuss prospects of reducing cost of health service.
He emphasized the government’s plan to strengthen the insurance sector in line with Vision 2030 encouraging investment in the sector and bringing more public projects under insurance purview as well as increasing the number of insurance firms and accredited health insurance service providers.
At present the health insurance scheme cover 11.88 million people including 9.35 million expats and 2.54 million Saudis. “The council supervises health insurance service being provided by companies and hospitals to 38 percent of the country’s population,” Al-Hussein said.
Total premiums received by insurance firms in 2016 reached SR18.69 billion.