Rani Andleeb

PESHAWAR: The Sehat Insaf Card is a great initiative by the government, but it does not cover every major surgery, nor has the public got any guidance from the government in this regard. Even if a doctor tells patients that there is no such surgery on the health card, the patients do not believe the doctor at all.

This was stated by Dr Ali Haider, Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon, Lady Reading Hospital in an interview with TNN.

Dr Ali Haider further said that this system of health cards started by the government is a great project. He said the facility has rendered great help to the poor people, but the system also has some flaws as well.

“Not every surgery can be performed with the help of this card because there are some surgeries that cost a lot. Those surgeries with a budget of more than Rs1 million are not included in the card,” he said.

Dr Ali Haider further said that not every surgeon performs surgery on the health card because surgeons don’t get enough commission out of it as compared to normal private surgeries. In a private surgery, 20 percent of the money is for the surgeon, 80 percent is spent on the surgery itself, so senior doctors are not ready to perform surgery on health card,” he said.

That’s a major problem because no doctor was consulted before fixing their fee charges.

The second thing is that doctors have been left at the mercy of the hospitals that are paying the doctors according to their own budget.

Dr Ali Haider said the government should have set fee in the health card for a doctor or surgeon for surgeries. For example, when a doctor performs a back surgery, his fee needs to be set beforehand.

When it comes to the hospital charges, the patient’s medicines, surgical equipment and room fees get deducted from this card and when finally the doctor’s turn comes, he is being told that there is no surgery fee left for him.

The third thing is that the money of the surgery performed via a health card in a private hospital is received very late. As a result of all these reasons, doctors do not perform surgeries on such conditions.

According to Dr Ali Haider, upon getting this health card, a common man thinks that all his treatment and surgeries will be done through this card, while in fact there is no such thing.

Surgeon Ali Haider further said, “Not every surgery can be performed on this card so when they deny or apologise to the patient for the operation which is not included in the card, the patient thinks that the doctor is cheating them. Hence, he said, the public should be informed about the health card because they have no awareness about it and this is a huge problem.”

Maria, who lives in the inner city, said that her son was born with hearing and speech impairment, so she wanted to treat her son based on the health card because she did not have enough money to pay for her son’s treatment. Upon going to the hospital for her son’s surgery, she was told that her son could not be treated with this card because the card has balance of around one million rupees, while the child’s treatment cost between 40 to 45 million rupees. That is why Maria’s son could not get benefit from health card.

Dr Zafar Mehmood, former MD of Lady Reading Hospital, said, “Patients have been provided services through this card for a long time since the card has been available to the people of the province. He said the LRH is fulfilling its duty in this regard.

Dr Zafar said there are facilities, centres where up to 400 patients are treated on a daily basis. The rest of the facilities that are not available are being negotiated with the government and insurance companies. “It will also benefit the people as soon as the negotiations are successful,” he said.

Alamgir, a resident of Peshawar, said he had a successful heart surgery with the health card, as he belongs to the poorest of the families and looks after his household on a daily basis, so the card has been of great use to him.

According to Alamgir, he hardly manages his household expenses in this time of high inflation, so heart surgery was not a minor matter because thinking about the fact that how could he treat the extra root that was attached to the heart, the possibility of a surgery seemed almost impossible. But now he thanks Almighty Allah that because of this health facility he underwent cardiac surgery two months ago and is now working hard again to support himself and his children.