The healthcare insurance sector in the Sultanate grew an impressive 17 per cent in 2016 over the previous year, underscoring the strong potential for investment in this promising industry, according to a high-level official of the sector’s regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA). Ahmad al Mamari, Acting Vice President — Insurance Sector, said healthcare insurance is ranked only second to motor insurance as the most important segment of the insurance business in Oman. The sector grew an average 34 per cent over the past four years, surpassing the growth rate witnessed by other segments of the insurance industry, he said.
Speaking to the Observer, ahead of the keenly awaited 11th Middle East Healthcare Insurance Conference due to commence today, the CMA official said the domestic healthcare insurance sector was ripe for the entry of international insurers, as well as for the growth of local players.
“The Capital Market Authority sees huge potential for the growth of healthcare insurance in the Sultanate, as is evident from the strong growth witnessed in this segment over the last four years.
The Authority is working in close coordination with other government stakeholders to strengthen the regulatory framework for this sector, as well as encourage the introduction of new insurance products and services into this market,” Al Mamari said.
This week’s conference, which runs from September 25-27 and will be held at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, has been hosted by the CMA with the support of the Middle East Insurance Review (MEIR), a leading insurance industry publication catering to insurance practitioners in the MENA region.
“This is the very first conference hosted by the CMA with an exclusive spotlight on healthcare insurance, thereby demonstrating our keen interest to highlight the strong investment potential in this key sector,” said Al Mamari.
“The 2-day event will be held under the auspices of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, while the CMA Executive President, Abdullah bin Salim al Salmi, will deliver the keynote address.”
Importantly, the theme of the event is: ‘Making Health Insurance Compulsory in an Era of Disruptive Innovation’, reflecting a wider trend by governments across the Gulf and Middle East regions to introduce mandatory health coverage to their populations.
Insights into Oman’s vision for mandatory healthcare insurance are likely to be revealed during the event as well.
The conference will bring together a stellar line-up of insurance industry officials from around the MENA region, as well as high-level executives representing leading global insurers, technology providers and consultants.
Reflecting on the theme of the conference, Al Mamari said countries in the wider region have been weighing private health insurance coverage to ease the burden on state-run healthcare providers.
The CMA, for its part, is focused on preparing the local insurance industry for any such eventuality, by developing a suitable regulatory framework that would attract new international players as well as inject greater dynamism into the market, he said.
“To build an effective healthcare insurance industry in Oman, we foresee three key imperatives: Capable healthcare providers, efficient health insurance coverage, and effective regulation. The CMA, for its part, is working with the concerned government agencies to develop a regulatory framework that will help achieve this goal.”
This week’s conference, the official said, will provide an opportunity for the local industry to learn from the experiences of countries in the region and around the world in the rollout of modern health insurance coverage. The application of technology in the delivery of effective healthcare insurance coverage will be highlighted as well, Al Mamari added.