AMMAN — Over 70 per cent of Jordanians are covered by health insurance. However, there are concerns about the healthcare service quality, particularly the waiting times and availability of essential medical treatments and hospital beds.

Minister of Health Firas Al Hawari said during an interview with Al Mamlaka TV that the percentage of Jordanians covered by health insurance from the public, private and armed forces sectors has reached around 72 per cent.

Hawari explained that the ministry added over 65,000 Jordanians to the insurance coverage last year.

Hawari pointed out that the ministry extended coverage to beneficiaries of second and third insurance grades by contracting the services of private hospitals, enabling individuals to enrol in health insurance for a very minimal fee.

He added that the ministry is working towards achieving Jordan’s commitment to comprehensive healthcare coverage by the year 2030. The realisation of this commitment started with a project that defines different health insurance packages and its pricing.

He estimated the completion of this project by the end of the current year, indicating that it is being carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

The Ministry of Health provides free health insurance for those above the age of 65 and under the age of five, including vaccines, medications, check-ups and doctor visits.

Meanwhile, concerns have arisen among many Jordanians, who claim that waiting times, availability of essential medical treatments, availability of beds at hospitals and overall patient satisfaction are not always insured at public hospitals.

Many are calling on the government to ensure that increased coverage does not lead to a decline in the quality of care.

Udai Ajarmeh, a 16-year-old Jordanian with a disability, told The Jordan Times that he has public insurance. However, his insurance does not cover all his needs as a person with a disability.

“First and foremost, public insurance has to provide people with disabilities with wheelchairs,” Ajarmeh stated.

Regarding hearing and speech impairments, Um Samah, who has a three-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, told The Jordan Times that public health insurance doesn’t include speech therapy sessions.

“Speech therapy sessions have to be taken at least twice a week for the patient to get results. I pay JD15 for each session,” Um Samah added.

Um Samah said that the ministry provides speech therapy sessions. However, sessions are placed two and sometimes three months apart.

As for the wait time at public hospitals, many claim that it takes an extended period to secure a bed. Furthermore, many claim that it takes months to book for a non-emergency operation.

Sahem, a doctor at the Ministry of Health, told The Jordan Times that the ministry’s hospitals are equipped with technologically advanced devices. However, the public healthcare sector suffers from a lack of specialised doctors and lack of awareness among patients.

“Many come to the Emergency Room screaming for help for minor issues such as a small cut, which does not require any medical intervention,” Sahem added.

Such patients take the turn of others who are actually in need of medical attention, said Sahem, urging the patients not to visit the ER unless their issue requires immediate intervention

“Hospitals, especially in the governorates, lack specialised doctors,” Sahem added.

She stated that the turnover rate among doctors in the public sector is very high due to low wages.

“The doctors’ salaries in the public sector are very low in comparison with the private sector. Therefore, many doctors work for other doctors in the private sector to make ends meet,” said Sahem.

Meanwhile, individuals with private health insurance have expressed that their insurance “barely covers their basic needs”.

“Dental insurance is considered a luxury in Jordan,” Ayah Kilani, a Jordanian, told The Jordan Times, adding that private insurance barely covers medical examinations and tests. However, it’s better than nothing, concluded Kilani.


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