An estimated five million people will be covered by the Mandatory Health Insurance System (Dhamani) when it is fully rolled out across the Sultanate over the next couple of years, top officials of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced here on Tuesday. Of this number, roughly two million will be private sector employees — Omanis and expatriates – and their respective families, while the balance will comprise tourists and visitors whose numbers have been soaring in recent years.
The revelations came during the Middle East Health Insurance Conference 2020, which opened at the Crowne Plaza Muscat. The two-day event, organised by Middle East Insurance Review in collaboration with the CMA, began under the auspices of Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance.
In opening remarks, CMA Executive President Abdullah Salim al Salmi said all of the supporting regulations necessary to enable the roll-out of the Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme are now essentially in place.
What would however be required for the scheme to be enforceable is legislation, as well as amendments to existing laws, that would make it obligatory for private sector firms to provide basic health coverage for their Omani and expatriate staff as set out in the Unified Health Insurance Scheme, he noted.
Significantly, as many as 490,000 private sector workers and their families — Omani and expatriates — are currently covered by health insurance — a figure that is projected to grow exponentially once the Dhamani scheme is introduced in stages. The number is expected to surge to two million workers and their families when the insurance scheme is fully implemented.
According to Ahmed al Maamari, Vice President — Insurance Sector, CMA, the size of the insured population is expected to swell on the back of rising tourist arrivals estimated at roughly 300,000 per month. This growth will drive up direct premiums from health insurance that have been surging over the past decade. Health insurance premiums grew by 31 per cent annually over the 2011 – 2019 timeframe, he said.
Significantly, out of RO 550 million in total premiums earned by the insurance sector in 2019, the health insurance segment pitched in a hefty RO 170 million, accounting for 31 per cent of the total. This share is projected to exceed RO 350 million when the Dhamani scheme is fully rolled out, said Al Maamari.