K-P reinstates Sehat card free treatment

Chief Minister Azam Khan directs resumption of scheme halted by cash constraints

Our Correspondent August 24, 2023
Caretaker Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa CM Azam Khan. PHOTO: FILE



Caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan, has swiftly responded to the suspension of free treatment under the Sehat Card Scheme.

In response, he has directed the health department to take immediate action to reinstate this vital facility.

The chief minister’s instructions also encompass the prompt settlement of dues to the scheme’s implementing partner, the State Life Insurance Company.

Following these directives, the health department engaged with the insurance company’s management on Tuesday, assuring them of iimpending dues clearance within a week.

Consequently, the company promptly instructed all its empaneled hospitals to resume free treatment services under the Sehat Card Scheme. This instruction was communicated in writing to the higher authorities of the Sehat Card scheme.


Earlier, State Life Insurance Corporation Pakistan had notified its panel hospitals of the suspension of all treatment facilities under the Sehat Card.

Hospitals were advised to continue offering only emergency and essential procedures, with Sehat Card Plus Health Desks remaining operational for these purposes.

Notably, prior permissions were mandated for admitting emergency cases.

Moreover, private hospitals were directed to refer patients to public hospitals.

Several months ago, the insurance company had halted treatments due to non-payment of dues.

Subsequently, the provincial government allocated an emergency fund of Rs2 billion to reinstate the services.

The Sehat Card scheme caters to around one million families, and it has provided free treatment to approximately 2.5 million patients so far.

Official sources revealed that outstanding dues to the insurance company amount to Rs21.6 billion.

The program’s annual cost totals Rs33 billion, and the government intermittently disburses Rs2 billion to sustain its operation.

Despite financial constraints, the provincial government has been unable to make timely payments.

The recent development, however, highlights that the caretaker government’s intention to terminate the Sehat Card Plus scheme was met with technical challenges.

The scheme, initially designed to provide free treatment facilities exclusively to those in need, faced backlash from the public and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, prompting the government to reconsider.

In response to public demand and criticism, the caretaker government decided to release funds for the scheme.

Although an initial decision to release Rs1 billion was made on August 18, the funds’ transfer was still pending in the AG Office pipeline.

The health department has reportedly engaged with the chief secretary to expedite the funds’ release.

This scenario underscores the complexity of managing a flagship project like the Sehat Card Plus scheme.

Financial constraints and shifting policy perspectives have played a role in the scheme’s challenges, as the government navigates the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and public welfare.

The rapid response by the caretaker chief minister to the suspension reflects the importance of maintaining essential public services, even in times of financial strain.


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