Aasandha Costs Skyrocket 60%, Reforms Needed to Protect Coverage

Minister of Social and Family Development, Dr Aishath Shiham, has revealed a concerning 60% surge in government spending on the national health insurance scheme, Aasandha, over the past five years. The revelation came in response to questioning by Addu City Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam during a parliamentary session.

Dr Shiham attributed the escalating costs to weaknesses in the current Aasandha framework, which allows for expense wastage. Of particular concern is the steep price of medicine in the Maldives, which she noted is “70 times more than the standard market rate in the South Asian region.” In 2023 alone, medicine accounted for MVR 1 billion of the MVR 2.3 billion spent on Aasandha.

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Acknowledging the strain on public finances, Dr Shiham emphasized the government’s ongoing efforts to revamp the scheme. Citing social media appeals from families seeking financial aid for critical ailments, the minister stressed the need to curb costs.

Aasandha Reform: A Priority

The Ministry of Social and Family Development is actively exploring cost-cutting models in consultation with foreign experts and stakeholders. The reform process aims to find a comprehensive solution while ensuring that no basic service is compromised under Aasandha. Controlling exorbitant medicine prices will likely be a key focus of the reforms.

The stark financial figures highlight the urgency for the Maldivian government to address the inefficiencies plaguing Aasandha. If left unchecked, spending on the insurance scheme is projected to balloon to MVR 3.4 billion in 2024, straining an already tight public budget.

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