Oman to implement mandatory health insurance in phased manner from 2019

H E Abdullah Salim al Salmi (Muscat Daily)

Muscat - 

Oman is likely to implement the much-discussed mandatory health insurance scheme in a phased manner from next year as the roadmap for the scheme is currently being prepared, a senior government official said on Monday. As per the plans, visitors to Oman will have to purchase medical insurance before entering the country from 2019.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the Middle East Healthcare Insurance Conference, H E Abdullah Salim al Salmi, executive president of the Capital Market Authority (CMA), said, “We would most likely start mandatory health insurance by first making it compulsory for visitors to Oman. We assume that going forward everybody entering Oman should have a valid health insurance, and if they don’t, we will try to provide a mechanism to ensure that everyone entering the country has this kind of coverage.”

The two-day Middle East Healthcare Insurance Conference began on Monday under the auspices of H E Dr Ali bin Masoud bin Ali al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry.

The conference is being held under the theme ‘Evolution Strategies to Make Compulsory Health Insurance Sustainable and Successful’ and is being attended by over 100 representatives from 12 countries.

When asked about the timing of implementation of compulsory medical coverage for visitors, H E Salmi said, “We are hoping to start next year, in stages.”

He said that the CMA, would be the regulator for medical insurance also. Currently, the authority is preparing detailed guidelines to cover all related issues and also on systems which would connect insurance companies, healthcare providers, regulators and other stakeholders.

Speaking at the inauguration of the conference, H E Salmi said the government had announced its decision on the implementation of the mandatory health insurance last year. “Since then the authorities have worked on a clear plan for the implementation of health insurance with an aim to reduce the cost of insurance coverage and to create a unified policy document for the sector.”

H E Salmi added that the mandatory health insurance will be gradually applied in five distinct stages.

Speaking at the event, Ahmed al Mukhaini, advisor at the CMA, said that creating a unified system linking all institutions and stakeholders is one of the most important challenges in implementing the mandatory health insurance.

“There are other challenges related to demography. Total number of workers in the private sector, who need some form of medical coverage including Omanis and non-Omanis, is over 1.9mn. Besides, a significant number of private sector employees have dependents also.”

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