JEDDAH: P. K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | Arab News Staff
Published — Thursday 1 August 2013
Last update 1 August 2013 9:46 am
Market experts have welcomed the Health Service Council’s plan to delay the medical insurance scheme for citizens by at least five years.
The council’s proposal has been presented to higher authorities, a source told Arab News.
“The council, chaired by Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, took the decision on the basis of the findings of a recent study,” Al-Eqtisadiah Arabic daily earlier quoted a ministry source as saying.
The introduction of medical insurance for Saudi nationals is likely to double the Kingdom’s insurance market, which is now estimated at more than SR25 billion.
The scheme has been subjected to extensive studies by the ministry and the Shoura Council over the past years.
In a previous statement, Minister Al-Rabeeah has said that application of medical insurance on citizens was not an easy task and should not be compared with that of expats.
Khaled Mirghalani, spokesman of the ministry, said the scheme is still under study in association with the Cooperative Health Insurance Council.
Market experts welcomed the decision to postpone the scheme and voiced hope additional time for authorities to develop a world-class system.
“We have to adopt best practices in other countries, especially the US, to make the scheme more service-oriented than another money-making business,” said Professor Mohammed Abdussalam of King Abdulaziz University’s Faculty of Engineering.
Kavungal Mohamed, assistant vice president of Marsh, said the postponement would help the government provide better health services to citizens.
At present about 70 percent of citizens depend on government hospitals and medical centers for health services, Mohamed said.
“The Kingdom should have necessary infrastructure before applying the scheme on citizens,” he told Arab News, adding that the scheme’s application on Saudi nationals would double the Kingdom’s insurance market.