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Working class caught in crossfire of JMA, insurance companies dispute

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Aug 22,2023 - Last updated at Aug 22,2023

Representative image (Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Hush Naidoo Jade Photography)

AMMAN — A brewing conflict between insurance companies and the Jordan Medical Association (JMA) has put the working class in the crossfire, experts say. 

The JMA announced that they will cease accepting medical insurance starting September 2. The suspension will be applicable to all cases except medical emergencies and cancer and kidney failure patients.

The JMA claims that the decision comes due to the “reluctance” of insurance companies to engage in discussions about increasing doctors' fees, while insurance unions claim that the most affected by the decision will be working class citizens. 

The impasse between the Union of Insurance Companies and the Medical Association Council has sounded alarm bells among Jordanians. 

Ziad Zou’bi, JMA president, told The Jordan Times that the dispute revolves around the fee scale for doctors and the reluctance of insurance companies to discuss an increase in doctors’ fees with the JMA. 

Zou’bi underscored that doctors have been operating based on the 2008-approved fees scale, despite evolving medical procedures and the increased cost of living. 

“Clinic fees have surged exponentially since 2008, eroding doctors' purchasing power and hindering their ability to meet financial obligations,” Zou’bi added. 

Zou’bi highlighted that insurance companies have raised subscriptions for beneficiaries while neglecting doctors' rights to increase their fees. 

"The JMA made the decision after exhausting all available means to reach a solution with insurance companies," Zou’bi added. 

The director of the Union of Insurance Companies, Muayyad Kloub, told Al Mamlaka TV that if doctors’ fees increase, the subscription fees for the insured individuals will be raised.

Kloub said that citizens will be disproportionately affected by the JMA’s decision. 

The parliamentary health committee has called for an urgent meeting to discuss the current crisis with the association, indicating that the union might resort to legal action regarding the JMA’s decision.

"The number of insured individuals stands around 690,000, distributed among 21 insurance companies, and the profit margin for each company does not exceed JD300,000 annually despite the substantial capital of each company," Kloub added. 

Khaled Abu Marjoub, president of the General Union of Public Services, Freelancers, Telecommunications, and Information Technology Workers, sounded an alarm over the detrimental consequences for workers. 

“The decision by the Medical Association to halt acceptance of insured patients and offer cash-only services jeopardises workers' economic stability and living conditions,” Abu Marjoub said. 

According to Abu Marjoub, the majority of beneficiaries of private health insurance are workers who rely on health insurance from their employers. "Workers stand to bear the brunt of this dispute, unless a solution is reached that safeguards both parties' rights and the public interest,” he said.

Abu Marjoub called for a resolution that doesn't compromise the medical services provided for workers.

He also warned against increasing medical fees, which would raise insurance contributions, burdening workers financially amid challenging economic circumstances.

 

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