09 Oct Myanmar to get its first health insurance scheme next year

Written by Ko Ko Gyi Published in Health Read 7150 times
Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein is hopeful the planned health insurance scheme will be up and running early in 2015. Photo: Mizzima Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein is hopeful the planned health insurance scheme will be up and running early in 2015. Photo: Mizzima

Plans are underway to set up a health insurance scheme for Myanmar citizens that will launch early next year, Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein told Mizzima in a telephone interview October 7.

The programme will start with pilot projects in Yangon and Mandalay cities before becoming fully operational, he said.

Currently, insurance schemes in Myanmar cover items such as fire, vehicles and property, but not health. Patients typically have to pay hospital fees - hard for those with a small income.

The task force including representatives from 12 local private insurance companies, Ministry of Health, Myanmar Private Hospitals’ Association, and the Department of Social Welfare under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is working to adopt the health insurance scheme, Dr Maung Maung Thein said.

Additionally, some representatives from 14 foreign insurance companies opening representative offices in the country are acting as consultants, he said.

The amount of compensation and the price of the premium are critical in setting up the health insurance, Dr Maung Maung Thein said.

Currently, there is already a general agreement among stakeholders on the compensation rates as part of the health insurance, said Dr Maung Maung Thein, who is also the chairman of the Insurance Business Regulatory Board (IBRB).

The IBRB, known previously as the Insurance Business Supervisory Board, is responsible for licensing insurers, underwriting agents and insurance brokers.

“If a person purchases [health] insurance, the insurance will only cover hospitalization costs but not medical costs. It is hard to cover medical costs because of the variety of diseases,” Dr Maung Maung Thein said.

“It would provide K10,000 (US$10) per unit for hospitalization costs each day,” he said.

If the compensation rate was raised over K10,000, the premium rate would increase, and therefore most ordinary people couldn’t afford to purchase this insurance,” he said.  

Daw Marlar Nyunt, general manager of the private insurance company Aung Thitsa Oo, told Mizzima, “It will take some time to develop a health insurance scheme that provides comprehensive compensation to cover certain diseases.

However, Dr Maung Maung Thein said there would be conditions where hospitalization and operating costs for emergencies and accidents would be covered.

He said it was important to pick the right premium rate. Too high and few would buy and too low and the insurance companies would make a loss.

Last modified on Thursday, 09 October 2014 14:49