Healthcare for all: New company to implement health insurance scheme

The Health Department will establish the Punjab Health Initiative Management Company (PHIMC) next week to implement the Punjab Health Insurance Scheme.

Under the pilot project, 0.28 million people in four districts will be provided coverage.

According to a Health Department official, who requested anonymity because the details have not been approved yet, the new company would be registered next week.

“This company will invite five short-listed insurance companies. Separate biding will be held for each district. There will, however, be no bar on a company bidding for more than one district,” he said.

“The pilot project will be started in Layyah, Rajanpur, Hafizabad and Chakwal districts. The budget for the project is Rs4 billion. A pre-bidding conference will be held to brief insurance companies about the project. The Health Department will select potential bidders during the conference,” the official said.

He said the government was planning to launch the scheme on March 23. “The selected families will be issued an insurance card. All members of the families will be treated free of cost at the listed hospitals. Beside the divisional headquarters hospital, some private hospitals will be on the panel of the insurance company. Each family will be entitled to a maximum of Rs35,000 expenditure per annum,” he said.

MPA Aisha Ghaus Pasha, who has been nominated to be the chairperson of the PHIMC board of directors, said the government would prefer insurance companies who had a wide community network.

“Insurance companies that collaborate with NGOs or other non profit development organisations will have an edge at the bidding. We are aiming to launch the pilot project in the first quarter this year,” she said.

She said the government was working to simultaneously launch the pilot project in all four districts. “The data being used by Benazir Income Support Programme will be used for this scheme as well. More families will be added later. Another survey will be undertaken with the assistance of the World Bank to ascertain who were the poorest of the poor in the area,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.