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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Draft of Universal Healthcare Act leaks in the press

State-owned Al Ahram published what it says is the current draft of the Universal Healthcare Act on Saturday. From what we can see, the act retains much of the key features first announced by the health and finance ministries back in March, including the formation of three regulators: the Social Health Insurance Authority will be charged with funding the new healthcare system; the Healthcare Authority, which will be in charge of managing healthcare services provided by the system; and a quality-control regulator.

The bill also sets premiums for employers of 4% of each employee’s monthly salary, and it is not clear whether employers who provide private healthcare plans will be forced to participate.

As for the private sector: The bill allows the private sector to provide health care under the system, but those participating will be obliged to offer prices set out by the Social Healthcare Insurance Authority. There appears to be no provisions in the bill which sets a price caps for private sector players not involved in the system. The Health Ministry had been insisting on implementing price caps for the healthcare sector, and will begin drafting a price list for services in early 2018.

Debate on the bill at the divided committee is expected to be contentious. Rep. Haitham Al Hariri, who is part of the populist-leaning 25-30 Coalition, was particularly critical of the government for not guaranteeing that it will not privatize public healthcare. He also spoke out against the state not covering retired pensioners and children under the age of 18 (breadwinners are obliged to pay a premium for their children). Other committee members, including Rep. Abdel Hamid El Sheikh, say that the premiums are too high. The most common criticism, however, appears to be the timeline, as the government plans to fully implement the system by 2032. A draft of the bill appears to have leaked in the domestic press over the weekend, the highlights of which we cover in the Speed Round.

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