International companies in Oman will be the first to benefit from the Sultanate’s new mandatory health insurance scheme, which aims to provide affordable and timely healthcare to private-sector employees in the country.
The first phase of the new plan will include basic emergency coverage for company employees in Oman, before eventually going on to cover other areas of health care, a senior member of the Sultanate’s Capital Markets Authority, the organisation which is handling the planning of the scheme, has told Times of Oman. It will then be extended to smaller companies until finally reaching the smallest blue-collar companies and domestic workers.
Abdullah Al Salmi, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority, told Times of Oman, “The insurance will cover the basic health services first. If someone wishes to add their own insurance on top of that, they can do so,” adding that the enforcement of the mandatory insurance plan would be done through “the data provided by the Ministry of Manpower for all employees, coordinated with the Public Authority for Social Insurance."
According to him, the biggest international companies will be covered first. "After the largest companies, it will move onto smaller companies until it reaches blue-collar and domestic workers,” he added.
Dr Halima Al Hinai, Senior Consultant for Public Health and the Director of Investment and Financing Options at the Ministry of Health, explained the services provided.
“The basic insurance includes first line health services as well as emergencies and external clinic visits. It will start with the corporate level first and then move on to other employees,” Al Hinai said.
Titled Dhamani (Arabic for ‘guarantee’) the programme’s main aim is to generalise insurance coverage for private sector employees, as well as tourists to Oman. Earlier, the head of the Oman Medical Association had said that compulsory health insurance could be in place by early next year, and the Capital Market Authority are now looking to roll out a plan that gives expats affordable basic and emergency care.
This was done after the Council of Ministers had previously reached a decision to make mandatory health insurance available to all the citizens and residents in the country.
“The national insurance system will make it compulsory for any company in the country to provide its employees with health insurance,” Dr Waleed Al Zadjali, the head of the OMA had said. “Establishing such insurance ensures that the rights of patients, businesses, and doctors are preserved. A system like this has never been in place and is very important.”
Ahmed Al Maamari, Vice President of the CMA’s Insurance Sector, also believes that health insurance for expats is important. Considering the number of expats in Oman, he said, “Working residents in the Sultanate require health services, especially basic and emergency care. Because of this, the Council of Ministers made a decision to prepare and execute mandatory health insurance for all workers in the private sector, both Omani and expat.
“We have decided at this stage to mandate the minimum level of health insurance on companies in order to limit the financial burden of implementing this in the early stages,” he added.
The Ministry of Health is also working to make the project a reality. Dr Al Hinai had presented a paper on this topic, saying, “A team has been formed to study current companies and how they would be categorised during the implementation of the different phases of the mandatory health insurance.”
“The Ministry is working to provide everything required to roll out Dhamani through its supervision and regulation,” she added. “The ministry does this by monitoring the ability of private health institutions to take on the expected growth which will occur once the project is ongoing. The goal is to ensure the quality of both treatment and professionals through implementing national and international competitiveness indicators.”
This scheme will aid in speeding up treatment decisions, and will also provide a medical record for every single patient under the insurance coverage. The project contains a global medical coding system which unifies its language in a way that facilitates the issuing of prescriptions in hospitals and reduces the incidence of mis-diagnosis.
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