By Samuel Kutty
The stage is being set for the introduction of mandatory health insurance for private sector employees in the Sultanate.
According to sources, the scheme is in the final stages and will be implemented from January 2018.
“A directive to provide health insurance for both nationals and expatriates will be issued after necessary approvals from the ministry,” said Rashid bin Amer al Musalhi, a member of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) and head of Services Committee.
Quoting Article 33 of Omani Labour Law, he said all companies are required to provide medical insurance for their employees.
The law says, “An employer may satisfy this legal obligation in relation to the payment of medical treatment for expatriate employees by providing medical insurance for its employees with a third party insurer, which insurer would pay the government or private hospital directly when the employee receives medical treatment at these health institutions.”
Although the law says an employer is not obligated to provide medical insurance to an Omani employee as they are entitled to free medical treatment at all government hospitals, the new health insurance scheme will cover the nationals as well.
All the companies in the Sultanate have been urged to abide by the plan to provide health cover to the employees, Rashid al Musalhi (pictured) said.
He said some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may not be able to include their employees under the scheme for lack of funds.
“A unified insurance scheme with the help of all private hospitals and insurance companies should be introduced so that all employees get the benefits,” he said.
Such a system will also help regulate and streamline the health services, he added.
Several big companies are already providing their employees with health insurance. According to OCCI data, there are 75 consulting offices, 374 international companies and 1,887 excellent level companies in the Sultanate. Welcoming the decision, health experts and social workers opined that mandatory health insurance will help citizens and foreign workers avail of better medical services. “This will help get a better spread of patients between private and public hospitals.
At present, government hospitals and clinics are overloaded with patients. This affects the quality of service and results in a long period of waiting for appointment or surgery,” said Ali Jafed, a physician.
According to Tariq al Balushi, a public relations officer, companies should do this voluntarily.
“It is the social responsibility of the companies to take care of the health of their employees.
Hence, there should not be any laxity in this regard,” he said.
© Oman Daily Observer 2017