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Free treatment in hospitals suspended over non-payment

2023 Sep 03, 19:14, Pakistan

Once again, the State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) in Pakistan suspended free treatment in hospitals under the Sehat Card Plus programme attributing the non-payment of dues by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's provincial government, reported Dawn.

The advisor to the caretaker chief minister on health Prof Riaz Anwar Khan urged the SLIC to resume their services and continue treating the patients at all enrolled hospitals.

He further instructed the authorities to ensure payment of dues to the SLIC in "due course of time" and added that the government was committed to the continuation of the scheme.

According to the notification, the SLIC asked all empanelled hospitals for the Sehat Card Plus to stop admitting new patients under the programme immediately.

This act of suspending free treatment in hospitals under the insurance programme is the fourth time in the last seven months owing to the government's failure to make payment to the corporation, reported Dawn.

Earlier on August 22, it temporarily stopped free health services in hospitals except taking emergency cases. However, it was restored the next day as the government promised early payments of dues.

Although, according to Dawn, the government failed to stick to its words.

Now, the sources said that even emergency patients wouldn't be treated by the hospitals under the Sehat Card Plus programme.

Moreover, the non-payment of dues by the government faced a lot of criticism from the Provincial Doctors’ Association.

The Provincial Doctors’ Association condemned the government after the SCP programme was frequently suspended and it further demanded the removal of private hospitals from the initiative and directed the patients to go to government hospitals for free treatment, Dawn reported.

Moreover, the PDA said that there was no system of checks and balances for the free insurance scheme, hence most of the revenue went straight to the private hospitals.

“Some private hospitals have been empanelled for the Sehat Card Plus despite lacking basic infrastructure but they receive a sizable amount from the programme. Of Rs52 billion spent on the scheme, Rs 46 billion have gone to private health facilities,” it added.

Moreover, the PDA said that the government should immediately suspend the empanelment of 133 hospitals and should conduct a thorough probe into the money they earned from the scheme.

It also said that the Health Foundation, Healthcare Commission and Medical Teaching Institutions were responsible for doling out taxpayers’ money but there was no one to ask them, according to Dawn.

It further said that only the private hospitals with facilities for the diseases, which weren't available in government hospitals should be included in the scheme.

The PDA noted that before this programme, most health services were available in public sector hospitals free of charge.

It added that prior to the launch of the programme, most health services were available in public sector hospitals free of charge.

According to the officials, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government initiated the free health insurance scheme which covered three per cent population in four districts in 2016 and then later extended it to the entire province in November 2019 in phases.

Furthermore, they added that 2.3 million people have benefitted so far from the SCP at 1100 hospitals across the province, reported Dawn. 


Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hospitals free treatment State Life Insurance Corporation Sehat Card Plus programme
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