Insurers in Oman directed to pick up Covid-19 treatment tab

The Capital Market Authority (CMA), which regulates the insurance industry in the Sultanate, has instructed insurance firms to shoulder the cost of treating policyholders who have contracted the novel coronavirus causing Covid-19.

The directive came in a circular issued by CMA Executive President Shaikh Abdullah Salim al Salmi on Sunday. It caps days of consultations between the regulator and the Supreme Committee for Covid-19 management, on the one hand, and the Oman Insurance Association, on the other, aimed at bringing the insurance sector on board in mitigating the rising cost burden on the Ministry of Health in the management of the pandemic in the Sultanate.

Thus, with immediate effect, insurance firms are mandated to cover the “costs of medical tests and treatment of insured infected with coronavirus ( Covid-19) up to the annual limits of their respective policies when they receive treatment in any hospitals”, according to the circular.  Coverage also applies to policyholders currently receiving treatment in any hospital, it stressed.

Additionally, the circular obliges insurance companies to “bear the costs of medical services for all insured who show symptoms of coronavirus when receiving treatment in any hospitals”.

The circular includes a price list and treatment guidelines approved by the Ministry of Health. The cost estimation of the management of COVID-19 patients, it says, is based on the calculation of the cost of health services a patient will need per the ‘National Guideline for Clinical Management Pathways for Hospitalised Patients with COVID-19’ and the recent experience of Al Nahdha and Royal Hospitals in managing such patients. For example, the average cost of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19 is estimated at RO 30.

The announcement comes just over a week after Oman’s authorities underlined the need for insurance firms to support COVID-19 treatment costs, which have hitherto been entirely shouldered by the Ministry of Health and the Omani government. Private firms are also obliged to cough up their share of costs per the Omani Labour Law if their employees are treated for the virus, it was stressed.