Thursday, July 27, 2017

New govt taskforce for health insurance trial

Private international insurance company representatives are to serve in a special task force created to introduce a health insurance system to Myanmar, the Ministry of Finance and Revenue has announced.

The government recently announced its intentions to deliver a standardised health insurance system by 2015, though sceptics are worried that it will be incredibly difficult to turn around such an undertaking in so little time.

Nevertheless, the ministry has announced that it will launch a survey on the health requirements of the lower class as well as pledged to form a task force that will oversee a one-year-long trial program set to begin in Yangon, Mandalay and other cities.

“After the trial period we will review and adjust the program to go nationwide,” said Finance Minister U Maung Maung Thein, adding that the task force will be composed of ministry officials, Myanmar Medical Association officials and local insurance companies.

“The president directed us to look into health insurance, and foreign insurance companies are interested and ready to help,” he added.

Though none of the 13 private insurance firms in Myanmar offer health insurance, such a policy would cover the costs of medication for serious ailments once established, he said.

Costs will be determined after a study of what diseases are most common.

Industry professionals said that despite the aim to afford the general public with health insurance, it would likely only appeal to wealthier citizens who have dispensable income. They also urge the standardisation of equipment and treatment regimes among hospitals in order to rationalise costs.

“In Yangon, you have Pun Hlaing, Victoria, Asia Royal, and SSC hospitals. Their equipment, technology and costs are all different. The government should set rules and standards so that the health insurance is done properly,” said an official with Aung Myint Moe Min, a private health insurance firm, who asked not to be named.

“Establishing a health insurance system requires a lot of preparation. We need exact plans and exact standards,” the official said.

Despite the issues, local insurance firms look forward to the opportunity to expand their services.

“We welcome this. Health insurance means the cost of medication will not be a burden anymore,” said U Thaung Han, managing director of CB Insurance.

“There will be a lot of benefits for citizens, though there isn’t a lot of information about how to do this, so we need help from foreign companies.”