Compulsory health insurance makes progress in Morocco
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 28/09/08
Public health insurance has been compulsory in Morocco for three years now, and according to the National Fund of Social Providence Organisations (Caisse Nationale des Organismes de Prévoyance Sociale, or CNOPS), the new scheme has performed well despite some limitations.
CNOPS chief Abdelaziz Adnane recently allayed public fears that the fund would be affected by a shortage of funds in the medium term. With the introduction of compulsory health insurance, the fund's financial resources nearly doubled to more than 3.2 billion dirhams in 2007. Officials say the cash boost will improve the way the fund operates.
Problems such as rising drug prices and the low use of generic medicines persist, however.
Adnane has called on the Ministry of Health to review its drug policy, in particular with regard to profit margins, which account for as much as 30% of the cost of drugs. Another difficulty is Morocco's aging population. Before health insurance was made compulsory, people over the age of retirement accounted for just 16% of all insured persons. That figure now stands at 22%.
Employment Minister Jamal Aghmani said great efforts have been made to guarantee the quality of services. Aghmani plans to continue these efforts by extending the scheme to new categories of people, in particular students in higher education and professionals such as doctors and engineers.
Aghmani added that the CNOPS has greatly improved its management of the public-sector compulsory health insurance system, including speeding up the processing of applications and offering better care for patients. Since the plan's inception, the number of reimbursable drugs has increased from 1,000 to 2,497 and the implementation of an IT system cut reimbursement waiting times from several months to less than one month.
The CNOPS says it has also removed restrictions in 87% of operations and extended agreements to cover medical expenses from two to five years for patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. In three years, 700,000 new beneficiaries have received coverage, bringing the total number of insured persons to 3.2 million.
Fatima Ben Cherif, who is covered through the scheme, is satisfied.
"Before, I didn't have any coverage. I didn't go to see a doctor even when I was ill. But for the last three years things have been different. I received a reimbursement within two months," she said.
Siham Bouhafa said the new CNOPS website enables people to check the progress of their applications and find out how long it will take to get reimbursed.
"This has shortened the endless queues of people seeking information at the CNOPS offices," she said. "It is hoped that payments will also be made online in the near future."
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.