August 6, 2020

Parliament Rejects Fines Proposed by Cabinet for Delayed Payment of Health Insurance


Inside the Lower Chamber of Deputies. MPs have passed their own amendments to the health insurance act

An amendment brought by the Finance and Economic Planning Ministry seeking to introduced heavy fines on people who delay to make their mandatory health insurance contributions, did not pass through Parliament.

On July 29, Minister Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana appeared in the Lower Chamber to introduce an amendment to the health insurance act of 2015. In the latest amendment, government wanted to bring two fines on people who don’t pay full contributions by December 31.

One fine would be general on the entire family for delaying to pay the due annual contribution. The other fine would be on each member of the family.

Health insurance contributions are supposed to be paid before beginning of July, which is when financial year also starts.

There has been confusion under existing format as to what health centers were to do when a patient with no health insurance shows up. Hospitals have simply been turning away such patients, even those who may have paid a portion of the required amount.

In the existing system, people had to wait for some time, usually more than a month, to have your names reflected in the database. In other words, since deadline is June, if you paid say in August, one had to wait much longer for their names to appear in the national database.

As a result of these cumbersome rules, some people arrived at hospital in critical condition, only to be told their name is not in the system. For example, in February, there was national uproar when an expectant mother died after she was refused treatment yet she had paid. It is because her name had not been fed into the system.

It is these loopholes that government wants to cover with the amendment brought to Parliament.

A report by Parliament’s committee on social affairs brought to the full House on Tuesday this week, after reviewing the Finance Minister’s amendments, advised the lawmakers to reject the fines proposed. The House concurred.

Parliament instead endorsed several of its own amendments including that a family which pays 75% health insurance on time, will qualify for treatment up to December 31. Resumption of qualification for health insurance cover will only be after the remaining 25% is paid, but without any fines.

The committee also dropped or changed many other articles in the amendment bill.

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