The Sultanate hosts the 11th Health Insurance Conference

05 October 2017


The Sultanate hosts the 11th Health Insurance Conference

The Sultanate is preparing to apply compulsory health insurance for expats workers during the coming period according to a gradual methodology starting with the expats and then with Omanis working in the private sector, as a result of specialized studies carried out by the government in cooperation with international companies that proved the need for health insurance.

HE Dr. Ahmed Saidi, Minister of Health, on the sidelines of the Health Insurance Conference in Middle East, said that 9% of Omanis working in the private sector currently have health insurance. "Health insurance is not a substitute for government funding, but it is a means of financing health, and there is some misunderstanding of health insurance that it will reduce health spending, while we know that many countries have implemented health insurance system and have doubled the cost on health services”.

The 11th Health Insurance Conference in the Middle East was held on 25-27 September 2017 with the participation of local and international employees and those interested in the development of health services and insurance companies hosted by the Sultanate represented by the Capital Market Authority. It is aimed to highlight health insurance and how to benefit from it. And to learn from regional and international experiences in this field and to identify future visions towards the optimal application of this type of insurance.

The Minister of Health expressed to reporters: "There are several studies in the Sultanate related to the sector, including the recent study conducted by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the National Korean Company for Health Insurance, which proved the need in Oman for health insurance in a systematic and gradual manner”.

He added that the health insurance will raise the quality and efficiency in the private health sector and must be a competitor to the health sector of the government and there can only be funding for the private health sector, one of which is health insurance, noting that the Sultanate is hosting several meetings and conferences During this year, including this conference, which we look forward through recommendations to benefit in terms of health insurance and in setting  a mechanism for the sector, and in avoiding some of risks and errors that some countries in this area have faced.

He pointed out that the cost to the health sector at the global level is increasing steadily and this cost is occurred as a result of modern technology that get enrolled annually and regularly within this sector, whether in devices, equipment, medicines or new technologies, indicating that this sector will not be sustainable during the current funding of any country unless there are new ways of financing the health sector.

HE Abdullah Salim Al Salmi, Executive President of Capital Market Authority (CMA), said in an opening speech that comparative indicators indicate that spending on health services has become a major challenge for many countries. For example, the public and private health expenditure in the GCC countries reached more than $ 62 billion (little lesser than 24 billion Omani rials) in 2016. This figure is expected to double in the Arab region by 2020 to reach about $ 132 billion (about 51 billion Omani Rials). In the Sultanate, the proportion of health expenditure of the government budget spending increased to reach 6% in 2016. For the period from 2007 to 2016, the current government expenditure on health has grown at an average annual growth rate of about 14% and investment with an average annual growth rate of about 25%.

"How can we continue to provide quality and efficient services but at lower costs? The answer is that there must be three basic elements; First: efficient health providers that are able to respond effectively to demand rates for these services, and second: organized insurance companies and able to facilitate access to these services and benefit from them; Third: an integrated regulatory and regulatory system that guarantee easy transactions , and ensures the rights of the parties and the proper application of relevant legislation and regulations.

Many countries considered health insurance as a fair and relatively clear means of ensuring access to health services from the perspective of financing, operational efficiency and the efficiency of health services provided. Interestingly, in the meantime, the growth of health insurance and the plurality of its products as a result of the increasing demand from the local market, as where there is demand, the private sector shall respond. In addition to being a means of funding health services, health insurance has become an important factor in the growth of private health institutions, and in improvement of the quality of provided health services, and in attraction of skilled and specialized labor, especially in markets and industries featured as competitive and rapid movement.

Al-Salami stressed that the improvement in the various levels of health care, in the number of hospitals and health centers, and the qualified personnel and specialized services is a proof of this trend and the efforts exerted by the Ministry of Health to provide high quality health services that is provided by the Ministry of Health. As a result of the increasing demand for the distinguished health care provided by the Ministry, the private sector has started to invest in private health institutions that provide services under the supervision of the Ministry of Health.

Whether health services are provided by the government or the private sector, comparative development studies show that the cost of health care is increasing steadily. The health insurance sector has witnessed rapid growth in the Sultanate, for example; in 2016, health insurance premiums formed 26% of the total subscribed premiums in the Sultanate that is close to total premiums subscribed for car insurance, which has been in control for years. Data indicate that during the past five years, the health insurance sector in the Sultanate witnessed increasing interest by the beneficiaries as the cumulative annual growth of the sector reached 34 %, which is an indicator for the growing health insurance and increased demand for private health services. On the other hand, the percentage of insured expats labor reached 10% of the total number of expatriates in 2016. As for the insured Omani workforce and their families, the percentage reached 9% at the end of 2016, indicating the high level of awareness among the society members of the importance of this type of insurance for the protection it provides to the community. It also translates the extent of employers they have as a means to attract competencies and human resources, and to fulfill their legal and contractual obligations towards employees.

He pointed out that the Capital Market Authority has established a special department for health insurance, and will work on the development of legislation, regulations and controls necessary for the operation of health insurance systems, taking advantage of the experience of others in this field, and on the other hand to make insurance companies operating stronger. The minimum capital of all active insurance companies has been raised to OR 10 million (about USD 26 million) in order to enable them to deal with insurance branches and convert to public shareholding companies. To provide products suitable for all segments of society, the Takaful Law was issued, which regulates the Shari'a-compliant insurance sector. Two Takaful Companies were licensed to provide all types of insurance including health insurance at the best approved standards. Thus, the number of licensed insurance companies reached 21 companies, including two Takaful companies and one re-insurance company.

The first session, entitled “Regulatory Issues in Health Insurance and Medical Insurance in the Middle East”, addressed the challenges that regulators must deal with when adopting the concept of health insurance as a tool to finance health care in a digital market.
The second session, entitled "Global Medical Trends 2017," reviewed the latest specialized research in this field, which indicates that 231 insurance companies from 79 countries presented during this year insights on the medical cost and reasons and the cost of management methods used by employers in addition to a general overview of medical trends in the United States of America.

The third session entitled "The impact of digital technology on the health care sector" identified the smart devices and intelligent data collection. The fourth session entitled "Transformation of health care towards comprehensive health coverage" addressed the new social health care in Egypt, covering comprehensive health coverage such as health services, demographics, coverage and protection of financial risks, and the current and future health system structures. The fifth session was entitled "The role of mandatory national health insurance to achieve comprehensive health coverage".

The final session of the conference focused on the Sultanate's experience in developing the health care system and mandatory health insurance, how to establish a partnership between the public and private sectors, and the growth prospects of the Sultanate and the future outlook for the sector.

Today, the conference will review a number of papers and working sessions on the shift from medical insurance to health care insurance, strategic tips and indicators in health care insurance with achieving profit, innovation in healthcare, the shift to digital health, partnership and forecast management: health care providers, governments, hospitals, a review of Gulf insurance experiences in various markets, and value added tax, and the important success factors of compulsory health insurance in the era of innovation. It is expected that the conference will come out with purposeful and comprehensive recommendations that translate the concepts of health insurance and the desired strategic and operational objectives.

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