By Tabora Bojang
The minister of health, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh yesterday introduced the National Health Insurance bill 2020 in the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
The bill, which underwent first reading, is designed to provide universal health coverage for all citizens.
Minister Samateh told The Standard that the scheme is for the entire population and it is going to be mandatory for everybody to be a member.
“Our proposal is that people over 65 years, children under 5 years and pregnant women will also not pay. Other people who are being classified as indigent will be identified by the Department of Social Welfare and they will equally not pay.
“Members will be paying some small amount and those who are unable to pay for many reasons will be exempted and there are exemption criteria,” Dr Samateh explained.
He described the scheme as a very important step in the country’s collective efforts to provide universal health coverage for the citizenry.
According to him, persons enrolled in the programme will be issued special health cards, which they will take to any health facility when in need, and they will be “accorded all the services required without paying a butut.”
Asked about the funding means of the legislation if passed, he said it would be financed from the contribution of members as well as other sources of revenue that are already in existence.
“Government has realised that the out-of-pocket expenditure for the people is very high and we want everybody to get the best quality health care services in the country without spending from their pocket at the point of services.”