The government has dismissed suggestions by the managing director of Aasandha to introduce a co-payment model in order to ensure the sustainability of the national health insurance scheme. The announcement, made by the Under Secretary for Public Policy of the President’s Office during a press conference on Thursday, comes as a direct response to Managing Director Fathimath Zeeniya’s comments in favour of the model at a Parliament oversight hearing last week.

The government firmly stated its commitment to enhancing the efficiency of the health insurance scheme without imposing additional financial burdens on citizens. This stance is a pivot from earlier suggestions to a shift towards a co-payment model to sustain the programme, which had raised concerns about the long-term viability of the free service model.

Acknowledging the challenges of the current system, including its sustenance through state funding and issues with accessing emergency medical care that requires substantial payments, the government’s focus is now on developing public healthcare infrastructure. A significant step in this direction is the recent establishment of a state-run bone-marrow facility. This development is crucial, particularly for thalassaemia patients who previously had to seek expensive treatments abroad or in private health facilities. The new facility represents a stride towards more self-sufficient and accessible public healthcare.

The reliance on private healthcare has been a key factor driving up the costs of the Aasandha scheme. By investing in and improving public health facilities, the government aims to reduce this dependency and, consequently, the overall expenses of the insurance programme. This approach stands in contrast to healthcare models in countries like the UK or Canada, where a more established balance between public and private healthcare sectors has been achieved.

Under Secretary for Public Policy of the President’s Office Mohamed Firzul Abdulla Khaleel, speaking at Thursday’s conference, also highlighted the government’s strategy to identify and eliminate redundancies in the healthcare system, which contribute to wasteful spending. This process of streamlining is expected to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of Aasandha without resorting to co-payments or additional charges for citizens.