The National Health Insurance Program (Sahti)

The National Health Insurance Program (Sahti)

The National Health Assurance Law No. 23 of 2018, which was endorsed by His Majesty King Hamad, is a historical turning point in the development of health services in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The law aims to provide a comprehensive and high-quality health system that is flexible and sustainable, attractive to investment, and guarantees freedom for everyone to choose their healthcare provider and receive fair and competitive healthcare services within a framework that protects the rights of all parties.

The government has developed an ambitious plan for the development of healthcare services in Bahrain, which aims to reform the healthcare system by introducing a national health insurance system that ensures fairness and ease of access to services, and provides a secure network for citizens and residents, reducing direct spending and giving citizens and residents the freedom to choose the service provider, creating competition among service providers, in addition to controlling waste and enhancing the role of the private sector.

The health insurance program aims to provide effective and high-quality health services with efficient resource utilization to achieve the best results, and to guarantee the rights of the patient, most importantly their right to choose the service provider, and provide opportunities for the private sector to provide basic and complementary services as a competitor to the public sector. In addition, the program seeks to develop governance and licensing systems to ensure acceptable levels of service delivery and to encourage service providers to obtain national and international accreditation certificates so that they can compete in terms of the quality of services provided.

The Supreme Council of Health regards financing as the most important driver for healthcare reform and sustainability. Implementing the National Health Insurance system means a fundamental change in the delivery of healthcare services in Bahrain, requiring a restructuring of the healthcare system and training of healthcare providers. This change will include the financing of healthcare services by transferring it to the insurance fund.

The health insurance system will be based on accurate cost calculations related to detailed medical information and will be the basis for the terms of contracts between the buyer and the healthcare providers, which will be overseen by the Supreme Council of Health through the creation of new institutions, namely:

  1. The Health Insurance Fund is responsible for registering participants, collecting subscriptions, contracting with service providers to purchase good services, and paying due payments to providers.
  2. The Health Information Center and Knowledge Management (Wisdom), which will be responsible for measuring health standards and outcomes, reviewing them, and issuing periodic reports on quality and health economics, as well as setting national health strategies and policies.
  3. The new system will also change the fundamental basis of monitoring, evaluation, and governance, where the Ministry of Health is released from one of its roles as a provider of health services to its role in monitoring, setting policies, programs, and providing public health services in coordination with the Supreme Council of Health and the National Authority for Regulating Professions and Health Services.
  4. Implementing reforms for the independence of service delivery entities and breaking the connection between public sector health facilities and the Ministry of Health, as well as the independence of their management and governance structures.

The Supreme Council of Health has taken a series of wide-ranging actions over the past five years in the field of health information systems, redesigning a comprehensive health information system and gradually implementing a self-management project in public health service institutions, such as primary and secondary care centers in government hospitals.