Health insurance bill forwarded to House panel

- Post Report, Kathmandu
After deliberations, the bill will be sent to the full House for endorsement

Aug 18, 2017-Parliament on Wednesday forwarded the Health Insurance Bill-2017 to the Parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare for deliberation. The Ministry of Health (MoH) had last week presented the bill before Parliament for endorsement. 

The House committee will discuss on provisions of the bill among lawmakers, who can file amendments to it. Once the committee incorporates amendments and holds discussion with concerned stakeholders, the bill will be again forwarded to a full-house for endorsement. 

A mandatory health insurance for all Nepali nationals is a major provision of the bill. Clause 21 of the bill states that it will consider household as a unit and all the family members should compulsorily enrol themselves in the programme. Should the bill get a parliamentary nod, it will be a milestone in the country’s health sector. 

In April, the Cabinet committee had approved the draft of the bill and forwarded it to Parliament for endorsement. Despite a strong lobby from then health minister Gagan Thapa, the Health Ministry could not present it before Parliament because of its disruption then. 

“We had held discussions with the lawmakers once. We hope that the bill will be sent by the committee to Parliament for endorsement soon,” said Dr Guna Raj Lohani, executive director of the Social Health Security Development Committee. The SHSDC has been looking over the health insurance programme in eight districts: Ilam, Baglung, Kailali, Baitadi, Aacham, Kaski, Myagdi and Palpa.  

Dr Lohani was referring to a meeting with lawmakers in January this year, when Chairperson of the parliamentary committee Ranju Jha had committed to prioritise the bill.

Jha had said the social health insurance was an essential programme of the government aimed at protecting the poor from falling further into poverty due to costs incurred in healthcare. 

Under the current health insurance programme, a household of five has to pay an annual premium of Rs2,500 to avail health services worth up to Rs50,000. 

For additional household members, each of them should pay Rs425. The scheme allows the member to avail health services worth up to Rs10,000. The enrolment is entirely voluntary. 

Published: 18-08-2017 08:12

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