Extending health card coverage

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has announced extension of health card facility to all poor families in the nook and corner of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa including the tribal districts. Before the issuance of proper health card, in the newly merged districts the CNIC can be used as health card for availing in-door treatment in government hospitals. Insaf Health Card coverage is being extended to 3.2 million families for which an annual expenditure of Rs. 10 billion has been estimated.

Although health card scheme was introduced in the previous PTI government for which finances were provided by the State Life Insurance Company. The government did not divulge any information about the source of funding to the company for premium payment and how this sort of health insurance can be sustained in future. This time another insurance company is being designated but a summary moved to Chief Minister for approval to award formal contract has hit snags.

State Life Insurance was a public sector huge profit earning state entity. On the other hand private insurance companies are not that financially strong to undertake the financing task of making payments to both government and private hospitals for the patients in the entire province under the health card scheme. Previously, there were complaints of exhausting the full financing capacity of health cards in few visits of poor patients by the greedy medical and surgical specialists who are running their clinics in private hospitals. Bulk of the patients had been taken by private teaching level hospitals due to lack of certain facilities in the NTI government hospitals. It would be worthwhile that health insurance schemes in vogue in the social democracies of certain western countries are studied for evolving the health coverage models.