Financing Egypt’s new Universal Health Insurance

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After months of discussion, in December 2017 Egypt’s Parliament approved a new national health insurance law that aims to overcome some of the inherent problems in the current healthcare system and offer better medical services to the public.

 

We have studied enough, the time for implementation is now!

Dr Mohamed Maait, Egyptian Minister of Finance

At the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA)’s Healthcare Conference on April 1st, 2019 at the Cairo Marriott Hotel, HE Minister of Finance Dr Mohamed Maait revealed that the new health insurance system will be rolled out gradually in six phases, starting in July in the governorate of Port Said. The event boasted high-level attendees such as Christelle Saghbini, GM and chairman of Sanofi Egypt and Amre Mamdouh, VP and cluster director Egypt for GSK amongst others.

 

Speaking at the conference’s opening session moderated by Dr Ziad Bahaa Eldin, Minister Maait highlighted the Egyptian government’s commitment to investing in human capital by completing the reform of the current fragmented healthcare system and achieving 100 percent coverage by 2030. Funds for the new comprehensive health insurance system are set to come from fees on tobacco and motorway tolls as well as contracts with clinics, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies joining the system.

 

Dr Maiit, who is also the chairman of the board of directors for the General Authority for Comprehensive Health Insurance, emphasized that the new system will not be based on the idea of the government providing services, as, “there is still freedom of choice for patients on which provider to use.” In contrast to previous attempts to reform the healthcare system, the new reform will not have a single entity acting as provider, regulator and buyer, which means that its success will be mainly determined by the primary care providers.

 

Dr Hossam Badrawi, chairman of Medicare, sees an opportunity for the public and private sector to work together to provide primary healthcare as, “it will be impossible to provide public health services without losing money.”

 

Similarly, Dr Walid Auf, managing director of Medmark Insurance Brokerage, foresees challenges when implementing the reform due to resource gaps, which would need to be addressed systematically to achieve significant progress. Consequently, he called all active players to join forces in order to ensure a successful implementation.

 

There was a consensus on the increasing need for both services and facilities due to the country’s growing population, which presents widespread opportunities for goods, services and training in both urban and rural areas. Considering Egypt’s poverty rate of 32 percent, financing a project of this size presents a huge challenge for the state and thus relies on the support of the private sector.

 

When asked about the role of the state, the panel agreed that the government’s role is to regulate the service and not to be a service provider, as has been the case in the past. Closing the opening session, Dr Maiit emphasized the political will to drive the reform forward as soon as possible, moving away from further studies and analyses have been conducted in recent months – “We have studied enough, the time for implementation is now!”

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