Health insurance for all is on the way in Oman

Energy Wednesday 11/April/2018 21:31 PM
By: Times News Service
Health insurance for all is on the way in Oman

Muscat: Medical insurance will become mandatory in Oman’s private sector, but it will take time to implement fully, according to a senior member of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Ministry of Health wants mandatory health insurance to be provided for all private sector employees, but some companies are still unable to do so as Oman has battled through a difficult economic period, thanks to a global downturn and an oil price slump.
“Most of our companies are actually giving this incentive to their employees, but some of these companies, small and medium enterprises, cannot do that, due to different challenges,” said Ahmed Al Hooti, director of the economic wing of the OCCI.
“These are expenses for which you have to pay more, and last year, there were serious talks about this, but I do not know whether we can actually ask our companies today to do that insurance right now.
“I think we have to slow down a little bit and not put pressure on the private sector, because they are facing a different type of challenge, so we cannot push all of these things on them, and keep asking them to do this insurance right now, but it is there for the future,” he added.
“Whenever we will find the right time, all of the companies in Oman will start doing that.”
In September 2017, Oman’s Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid Al Sa’eedi, said that the new healthcare system should be rolled out.
The minister said at the time that only a fraction of expats in the private sector were covered for medical insurance.
“We hope to start the health insurance plan in the private sector for nationals and expats working in that sector in phases,” he said.
“The aim of the health insurance plan is to raise the quality and efficiency of the private health sector, which must compete with the public health sector, and this cannot happen unless there is proper financing in the private health sector, which could come from health insurance.”
Health costs
He added: “We must find new ways to finance the health sector. In the Sultanate, spending on health costs about 3 per cent of the national income; however, more spending does not mean better quality. There are countries which have increased spending on healthcare, but have witnessed a drop in quality. We have to make sure we address that in our regulations.”
Al Hooti added: “You have to have a balance. If we put more taxes, if we put more prices on the products and on the private sectors, whenever you put more fees on them, where will the private sector get its money to cover these costs? It will be from the customer.
“If the growth is going up and as there is talk of growth of about 2.5 to 3 per cent, and if we have inflation of one per cent, you still have growth of about 2%,” added Al Hooti.
“We need it to be this way, and this will help the economy, and the environment to grow and make the country better.”
Al Hooti was also quick to praise the private sector for their initiatives in providing more than 20,000 Omani jobseekers with employment, under the government’s new employment programme which aimed to provide work for 25,000 Omanis with work by September.
“Actually, our private sector has to take the initiative, and the best initiative taken has been to take in the 25,000 job seekers, which was announced by the government,” said Al Hooti.
“The government was planning to take a number of these 25,000, but today, 20,000 of these employees have been included in the private sector.
“This is a young country, so you cannot do much more than any other country,” he said. “In terms of development, we have free zones in four of five areas, but we still have a lot to do, so it is easy to have growth in Oman.”