In a significant move aimed at ensuring the fiscal sustainability of its flagship Health Card scheme, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) caretaker government has announced a series of reforms that will restrict full benefits to beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The decision came after a high-level cabinet meeting led by caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan.
Rising healthcare costs and an increase in the financial burden of the Health Card initiative from Rs30 billion to Rs39 billion prompted the government to reconsider its approach. During a press conference, Advisor to the Chief Minister on Health, Riaz Anwar, explained that the changes were necessary to maintain the program’s viability.
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Under the approved reforms, individuals with a monthly income of up to Rs37,000 will be required to contribute 25 percent of their medical expenses. This contribution will be calculated using data from the Benazir Income Support Programme, ensuring that those with higher incomes bear a fair share of their healthcare costs.
It’s important to note that while some beneficiaries will now need to contribute, the government emphasized that free healthcare services would continue to be provided to the poor and underprivileged. Additionally, access to free facilities at the emergency ward will be extended to all citizens.
This shift in focus aims to address the mounting budgetary constraints that have seen the expenses of KP’s Health Card program increase from Rs30 billion to Rs39 billion, as reported by Samaa. Rather than discontinuing the program, the government has chosen to refine it to ensure that those most in need continue to receive vital healthcare support.
Caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan stated, “Our goal is to strike a balance between providing healthcare to those who require it the most and maintaining the fiscal health of the province. These reforms will help us achieve that equilibrium.” The government is also exploring other avenues for cost containment and revenue generation to further support the program’s long-term sustainability.