October 11, 2017
In a major move, the Nepali Parliament yesterday endorsed the historic Health Insurance Bill that aims at ensuring universal health coverage for Nepalis.
This bill mandates the enrolment of all Nepali households in the universal healthcare program, which covers preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative support while also addressing related financial challenges of the needy.
Placing the bill in the Parliament, Minister for Health Giriraj Mani Pokharel said, “The insurance premium for the families who cannot afford to pay will be borne by the government.”
Meanwhile, the former Nepali Health Minister and Congress leader Gagan Thapa termed the bill as a historic move, while also urging the government to monitor private hospitals and control prices of medicines for an effective implementation of the program.
“It is an important step towards ensuring health care services to all the citizens as envisioned by the constitution,” read Thapa’s statement.
It’s noteworthy that the bill was approved during Thapa’s tenure and later passed on to the Parliament.
Existing Program Holds Limited Scope
Nepal currently has the health security program in place in a few districts. However, its expansion as a nation-wide plan could not happen due to regulations and legal issues associated with it.
Whereas, the new bill succeeded in terms of universal coverage.
With regard to insurance coverage, the current program mandates a household of five to pay an annual premium of Rs 2,500 to enjoy services worth Rs 50,000, and every additional member will be levied Rs 425 for services worth Rs 10,000.
Unlike the current bill, the new health policy levies premium based on the family’s income.
It also has a provision of Health Service Board to be headed by a chairman appointed by the government and representatives from the insurance firms.