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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Public servants to get health and injury cover

A government meeting yesterday proposed new steps for the creation of health insurance for civil servants, including those in military service.
A government meeting yesterday proposed new steps for the creation of health insurance for civil servants, including those in military service. Heng Chivoan

Public servants to get health and injury cover

The National Social Security Fund is developing a health insurance and work injuries scheme for civil servants, officials have confirmed.

The NSSF yesterday had meetings with representatives of various institutions – including the Ministries of Health and Labour – to work out a plan for the proposed scheme, according to a post on Facebook.

“This is the first time the fund is considering the creation of a health insurance plan for civil servants,” NSSF deputy director Sum Saphorn said yesterday. “Now we are preparing the new health insurance plan, and then we will submit it to the government for approval.”

If the scheme is approved, insurance that covers illnesses, prenatal care and work-related injuries would be available for about 300,000 civil servants, Saphorn said. All workers who receive salaries from the state would be eligible for coverage under the scheme.

Saphorn said workers would be expected to pay a registration fee, but the amount has yet to be determined. He said he hoped the scheme would be in place by 2017. Officials said Cambodia’s civil servants were badly in need of healthcare coverage.

“We currently have a budget to help civil servants who get sick, but we couldn’t afford 100 per cent coverage,” said Minister of Public Function Pech Bunthi. “I think this plan could make workers more productive because they will get care when they’re ill.”

Cheav Savuthea, an administrative chief of the Department of Education, said that there was no money for healthcare for workers in his department or in schools.

“When one of our staff members gets sick, we ask our colleagues for donations to buy milk and fruit and bring it to the hospital,” he said.

But some experts expressed skepticism about the quality of healthcare the insurance would provide.

“We don’t trust Cambodian clinics and hospitals, either state run or private,” said Sorn Chey, a rights worker with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific. “I think the NSSF should ensure that quality healthcare is provided by implementing a monitoring system.”

Political analyst Ou Virak, meanwhile, argued that it would be more efficient to raise civil servants’ salaries to allow them to purchase private insurance.

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