Universal health insurance for Punjab


ADDRESSING a public gathering in Hafizabad on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to extend health card insurance scheme to fifty percent population of Punjab by end of this year and to entire province by next year. Under this scheme, each family will be able to afford a medical treatment worth one million rupees either from public or private hospitals.
The KP government has already started the process of providing health cards to each household in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Initiating such comprehensive health coverage in a country like Pakistan is not a small achievement. Even rich US government is not providing a similar coverage to the entire population. Only Europe, the UK, Canada and a handful of other welfare states have such governmental support for medical treatment. The importance of universal health insurance is such that even middle class families will also be able to benefit from it. The families having monthly income of more than one hundred thousand rupees also find it difficult to pay for treatment for sudden health shocks such as cancer, cardiac arrests etc and they have to take loans or sell their properties to meet the emergency. The financial difficulties then stockpile on these unfortunate families and it is the job of a caring government to protect them from falling into a cycle of misery. Hence, credit will really go to the PTI government if it successfully implements the health insurance scheme and that too within the given timelines.
Insurance is a serious business and requires 100 percent compliance once a guarantee is given. Once a family is assured of health cover, there must be no room for denying it. The people will really see the impact of this scheme provided medicines are also made available at affordable rates. We will rather suggest that low-income groups especially those in the database of Ehsaas Programme should be provided free of cost medicines under the insurance scheme. Then most importantly, rural health centres should be revamped and strengthened ensuring that people of far-flung areas get medical treatment at their doorsteps. This will bring a real change in the life of people.

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