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Tanzania’s Parliament Unanimously Passes Universal Health Coverage Bill

Tanzania’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill aimed at achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The bill, introduced on Wednesday by the Minister of Health, Ms. Ummy Mwalimu, outlines six key measures to fund the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme, including a service tax on carbonated beverages, alcohol, cosmetics, betting, motor vehicle insurance premiums and electronics. Transaction Tax.

One of the key features of the bill is the creation of a dedicated fund to address the cost of health insurance for vulnerable groups in the country. The fund will be utilized to provide medical care to people suffering from chronic and lifelong illnesses (e.g., kidney complications, cancer) and to provide emergency services arising out of accidents.

Another important feature of the bill is the introduction of the Community Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to replace the Community Health Fund (CHF).The purpose of CHIP is to enroll all citizens in a health insurance program that can provide quality services without difficulty.

The bill also requires public and private sector employers to recruit new employees within 30 days of the effective date of the contract. Public sector employers will contribute 6% to the Universal Health Insurance Program (UHIP), while private sector employers will have the option of enrolling their employees in the Public Health Insurance Program (PHIP) or any other private program.

The bill also removes all treatment exemptions and the practice of preventing patients or corpses from being discharged from hospitals due to inability to pay for personal medical care.

Tanzania’s Parliament Unanimously Passes Universal Health Coverage Bill

The Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) has been mandated to oversee the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage Scheme.TIRA will be responsible for registering health insurance schemes that offer standard benefit packages and issuing standard operating guidelines.

Individuals who fail to enroll in any health insurance scheme within three years from the effective date of the Act will be subject to a 10% penalty.

The Toto Afya card, which is a government initiative to provide free healthcare to children under the age of five, will not be affected by the new bill. However, the Minister of Health noted that 99% of the children enrolled in the Toto Afya card program suffer from illnesses, indicating that the cost sharing mechanism involved in health insurance could be more effective in ensuring that everyone has access to quality health care.

The Universal Health Coverage Bill is an important step by the Tanzanian government towards realizing the goal of providing quality health care to all citizens regardless of their income or social status. The Bill is expected to be passed by Parliament soon and is likely to come into force in early 2024.

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