Free Health Insurance for poorest Pakistanis


DN Report: The Government of Pakistan has recently announced the National budget for the fiscal year 2014-2015, in which one big relief promised for the poorest segments of the society, is a Free Health Insurance Scheme being launched through a special financial allocation of One Billion Rupees.

According to the plan of this pioneering effort, the allocated fund of One Billion Rupees should be enough to extend health insurance facilities to nearly 100 million common people. The implementation of this Pilot project has been spread over several phases. Each beneficiary of the Scheme will enjoy health coverage against tertiary diseases and special ailments.

The scheme has recently recieved the approval from the prime minister, in the presence of the Youth Programme’s Chairperson – Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister, Health Minister, and top officials of these ministries.

The scheme will operate through the Health Ministry, and deliver the benefits through the joint efforts of authorized institutions including; Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA), who will also be responsible for systematic identification and selection of the most deserving beneficiaries.

It has been suggested that, each beneficiary may be issued a Health Insurance Card, which will be digitally identified at numerous designated medical institutions, for “Cash-Free” payment of healthcare expenditure. This scheme will also foster productive competition between public and private institutions.

The scheme will begin specific districts, which are commonly known to be totally deprived of healthcare facilities since decades. In the next phase, it will be strategically expanded throughout the country. Slum dwellers and the most under-privileged segments of the population have been targeted as the primary beneficiaries.

During the formulation of this scheme, the planners took some concepts from highly successful systems of “Social Security” and “Grievance Redressal” for the lowest income segment, adopted in the USA and other European Union States. Even the Indian method was studied, as it presents similar social and economic circumstances.

Prime Minister – Nawaz Sharif has expressed hope that; “the scheme will also enhance public-private partnership in Pakistan and will open up further avenues for investment”. Maryam Nawaz Sharif has commented that; The scheme is designed on simple lines to ensure cost efficiency, and will be devoid of any political influence. It will provide a blanket cover for cash-free treatment to poor people for major diseases including; Cardiovascular, Diabetes Mellitus, life and limb saving treatment, implants, prosthesis, end-stage renal diseases and dialysis, chronic infections (hepatitis), organ failure (hepatic, renal, cardio-pulmonary) and cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation & surgery).

The high-level participants of the meeting have also agreed upon the establishment of a pioneering, cutting-edge organ transplant centre in Islamabad.

The relevant ministries have been instructed by the Prime Minister, to finalize all the technical modalities and collaborate swiftly, to provide the earliest possible relief to the suffering humanity.

June 10, 2014

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