CAIRO: The People’s Assembly’s health committee debated the draft of a new medical insurance law during their first meeting yesterday despite strong objections by the Pharmacists’ and Doctors’ Syndicates.
Hamdy El Sayed, head of the health committee and president of the Doctors’ Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt that the draft law would oblige the government to cover the medical insurance of the whole population.
Medical insurance used to cover only 52 percent of the population . [under] the new law, the whole population will be covered, said El Sayed.
He added that the head of the Pharmacists Syndicate Dr. Zakria Gad has agreed in principle, to the premise of the law, but still has some reservations regarding the details and wording of its various articles.
El Sayed added that the current medical insurance system is substandard, providing citizens with inefficient services.
The new law will work on . improving hospital standards and services for everyone in the country, said El Sayed.
The new law is slated to be presented to the ministry next November, after the health committee concludes its primary meetings in which it will debate the draft law, according to El Sayed.
Dr. Farid Ismail a member of the PA’s health committee told Daily News Egypt that he predicted that the law will be approved considering the National Democratic Party’s majority in the council.
The Medical Insurance Association used to be responsible for both the finance and the service aspects of hospitals, said Ismail, “but after the new law, there will be a clear separation between financing the hospital and the services offered.
He said the law has positive and negative aspects. “Almost all the articles in the law refer many issues only to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health.this is one of the main drawbacks, said Ismail.
He added that the other problem lies in the fact that the law forces citizens to pay 25 percent of the total treatment bill as well as one-third of the costs of the medicine prescribed by the hospital.
But Ismail says 25 percent is unreasonable for people who cannot afford it. “If someone poor is having treatment at the hospital, how will he/she afford to pay the 25 percent?
Secretary-General of the Pharmacists Syndicate Dr. Mahmoud Abdel Maksoud told Daily News Egypt that the draft law includes an unacceptable article detailing the agreements with the service providers.
The law states that the head of the Medical Insurance Association, which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister, are the only ones authorized to modify the [insurance policy]. However, there should be representatives from all the professional syndicates to negotiate the policy with hospitals, pharmacies and the Medical Insurance Association, said Abdel Maksoud.
Dr. Ahmed Ramy, a member of the high board of the Pharmacists’ Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt that the law includes several ambiguous articles and vague wordings.
According to Ramy, hospitals will no longer be under the supervision of the Medical Insurance Association, but rather under the authorization of a holding company.
This is really unacceptable. The Medical Insurance Association and the holding company are both under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. How can both would make agreements with pharmacies and hospitals? There should be an independent association to make these agreements, not the government, said Ramy.
The Ministry of Health and the president of the Pharmacists Syndicate were not available for comment.