Qatar’s ambitious plan to mandate health insurance for all residents and visitors by 2014 faces a number of hurdles and “is not going to happen” in a two-year time period, industry experts have told Financial Times.
To control rising healthcare costs, the Supreme Council of Health announced plans to completely overhaul the current system, in which the government foots most of the bill, with a universal healthcare scheme that relies primarily on private insurance providers.
But implementing a new system will entail overcoming a number of challenges, FT reports.
- Addressing the lack of regulatory oversight of private insurance providers. Few such companies currently operate in Qatar, but under the new plan, demand for such services will increase dramatically. When that happens, there’s a risk of introducing a “vicious cycle of interaction between the insurance and the provider, where providers try to scam the insurance and insurance [companies] are always trying to underpay the provider,” one consultant told FT.
- Establishing a set of uniform practices across the industry in terms of regulations, patient billing systems and pricing plans – as well as hiring people to handle the claims.
- Sorting out inconsistent quality of care. According to FT, expats account for some 95 percent of the healthcare workforce. They come from countries with different regulatory and educational standards and often stay for just a few years. Such high turnover has only worsened the quality of care in a country with a booming population and overcrowded hospitals.
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