Iran’s government after a long and quiet move has removed the health insurance and medical services for the insured and announced that all health insurance booklets will be removed within the next two to three months.
This news was published by state TV on May 5, 2021 in an interview with a doctor named Mehdi Razai who is the Deputy of Insurance and Health Services of the Health Insurance Organization, as a very casual and short subject as if nothing has happened.
“In other words, within the next three months, we will stop printing booklets, and the service will be available without the booklets.” (State TV news channel, May 5, 2021)
The question that arises is what will the fate of health care insurance be in the new situation without having an insurance booklet? And what should people do?
Answering these questions, he continued: “They can apply by presenting an ID card, for example a national card, and after than he/she was authenticated, on the leaflets or on the letterhead of the provider centers, the person should receive his / her service and be covered by insurance.”
According to this answer, all Iranians can now receive free or semi-free government medical services by presenting a national card or an identity card. That is, are we really moving towards a health insurance paradise?
The answer, of course, is no, because this official then said, that only those who are entitled to receive these services can benefit from these services by presenting a national card or any other valid ID card.
“The person is covered based on the inquiry made from the insurance systems. And this inquiry does not need to have a booklet, and the booklet is not the basis. The criterion is the identity of that person, which having a national card or national identity is enough for this.”
With this explanation, it means that in the new situation, these semi-medical services have been eliminated and only certain people which the government recognizes as “worthy” by their “merit” can benefit and use the government’s insurance services.
Another reality is that before this government’s decision the insurance service was not free at all. Because every villager had to pay 800,000 tomans in cash to the government to renew his or her rural health insurance. That is, even the health insurance of the villagers was not free, despite being one of the poorest strata in Iran.
And even last year the government had removed the insurance service of the pharmacies and medical centers. As an example, in Tehran, until the half of the year, only 800 pharmacies accepted the insurance and the rest of them did not accept any insurance prescription.
And in the counties, specialist doctors did not accept to become a party to the insurance. Meanwhile, the members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are covered by many government insurances services like:
- Khomeini’s relief committee
- Isaar foundation
- Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution
- 15 Khordad Foundation