Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme to be unveiled shortly

Muscat, March 17 – The Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme for expatriate employees of private firms, as well as visitors to the Sultanate, is due to be rolled out shortly, a high-level official of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced here yesterday. Ahmed al Maamari, Vice- President — Insurance Sector, said a final nod from the government is awaited before the keenly anticipated scheme — branded as ‘Dhamani — is implemented.  “The Unified Insurance Policy for the Dhamani scheme is ready to be launched,” said Al Maamari. “The CMA has already set out the initial steps for the roll-out of the programme, but we are waiting for the final green-light from the government to launch it officially.”

The official made the announcement at the opening of the ‘Arab Symposium on Implementation and Challenges of Health Insurance’, which began at the Sheraton Oman Hotel yesterday under the auspices of the CMA. In attendance at the launch were high-level officials of the Authority, notably Executive President Abdullah al Salmi, as well dignitaries representing the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Manpower, Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OCCI), and Royal Oman Police (ROP). Earlier, Al Maamari announced the constitution of a high-level committee to oversee the implementation of the Dhamani project in the Sultanate. Sitting on the panel are officials of the CMA, Ministry of Health, Manpower Ministry, OCCI, and ROP, as well as trade unions and other stakeholder government agencies.

Given the challenges of providing health insurance coverage to an estimated two million expatriates living and working in the Sultanate, in addition to travellers visiting the country, the launch of the Dhamani project will be gradual and phased, said the official. The underlying objective of the scheme, as enshrined in the mandate provided to the CMA by the Council of Ministers, is to ensure that expatriate workers get – at the very minimum — basic health coverage and emergency healthcare, he said. The goal, he explained, is to balance the fundamental rights of the worker with regard to access to healthcare services with the cost burden that will have to be shouldered by the employer. “We have started advocating the idea that the employer will start with the minimum premium and, at a later stage, add more benefits to the policy,” Al Maamari noted.

The official voiced hope that the implementation of Mandatory Health Insurance would fuel investment not only in the insurance industry, but also in the private healthcare sector, thereby contributing to economic development in general in the Sultanate. This investment, he further noted, will mitigate the need for people to travel overseas for medical care.