Iran: 100 High- Demand Drugs Excluded From Social Insurance Coverage
By Amir Taghati
While the Iranian regime has set up the most advanced and efficient private and even personal hospitals for regime leader and other state officials, the Iranian people are more and more denied of the least medical and healthcare services.
It was recently announced that close to 100 highly consumed and cheap drugs would no longer be covered by any social insurance plan, meaning they would only be available at a higher price. Regime’s Health Ministry officials meanwhile claim that the decision would save the country’s healthcare system nearly 140 billion tomans.
“The excluded items include some nonprescription medicines like cold drugs, acetaminophen and antihistamines,” says the CEO of Health Insurance Organization ‘Taher Moohebati’, according to regime’s Health Ministry website.
Although the decision to remove the drugs from insurance coverage was made last year, but due to January’s nationwide protests the regime was forced to hold back and postpone the decision’s implementation date until last week, July 7, 2018, when it announced that from July 11, 2018, close to 100 drugs will only be available at subsidy-free prices.
State-run websites meanwhile have reacted to government’s latest move, writing “in its most recent decision, the government has strangely removed some highly consumed drugs from insurance coverage. This means that from now on you’ll have to pay several times higher for a cold drug.”
Mostly used by low-income population, the OTC drugs are among highly consumed and widely used medications that until yesterday you could obtain them at cheap prices from drugstores to treat your minor cold or headache symptoms. Regime’s Health Ministry officials meanwhile claim that such drugs are too excessively used to be subsidized by the government, and thus the decision to raise their prices and exclude them from insurance coverage has been aimed at reducing their unrestrained consumption.
With the decision put into effect, there’s been a drug shortage and increased drug prices of up to 70 percent. Besides, the decision will also seriously jeopardize and increase the cost of healthcare for low income population and society’s wage earners.
Pointing to its negative consequences, some physicians have warned that the decision will force many of their colleagues to prescribe drugs that would normally be their second or third choices, but the doctors tend to prescribe them anyway only because they are covered by insurance plans and the patient can afford them, something that will in turn lead to increased drug misuse cases.
Yet, the other aspect of regime’s anti-human decision could only be seen when we realize what type of medical services regime officials receive.
Most of regime’s high-ranking officials have access to a mobile medical team that’s constantly located at the nearest possible point. The fully equipped medical team constantly accompanies the subject and is ready to provide his or her healthcare needs 24 hours a day throughout the year.
“Among Mr. Ahmad’s nice jobs was setting up a small, modern heart hospital near Khomeini’s residence,” writes Hashemi Rafsanjani in his diary, “the medical team stationed at the hospital saved Khomeini’s life several times.”
Also in this regard, Mohammd-Hossein Khoshnevis, a member of Khomeini’s medical team, had pointed in an interview to permanent presence of a medical team for regime’s key figures, saying “during a night shift at around two o’clock in the morning, the nurses monitoring Khomeini’s physical conditions noticed a dangerous heart rhythm disorder. The medical team in place were immediately informed and soon arrived to do the revival.”
It was also revealed in 2009 that a private hospital with four doctors on standby is set up in the basement of regime leader Ali Khamenei’s residence, monitoring his condition 24 hours a day.
As a member of Khamenei’s security team who ran away from the country in 2009 for fear of a regime collapse, the source who revealed the information also pointed out that “a highly equipped medical bus always accompanies Khamenei in his road trips. Likewise, there’s also an advanced mobile hospital at hand during Khamenei’s air travels.”
The story is more or less the same for regime’s other key figures, so much so that having a permanent medical team and emergency unit is quite commonplace among many of regime officials and affiliates.
Yet, some statesmen and their off-springs still prefer to go abroad to be fully checked up and receive the most up to date medical services despite having a 24-hour medical team at their disposal.
Another aspect of this flagrant discrimination is the rise of numerous advanced specialized hospitals in Iran, offering world class high quality medical services at staggering prices. But considering the sharp devaluation of Iran’s national currency, the price of services such hospitals offer are only a fraction of foreign hospitals’ rates, encouraging many wealthy people in the region and the world, and even middle class European and Arabs, to travel to Iran to receive premium medical services at low prices.
“Hundreds of thousands of medical tourists from regional countries travel to Iran every year to receive medical services,” says Mohammadhaji Aghajani, head of Beheshti Medical Sciences University (former Melli University), according to State-run ISNA news agency on April 25, 2018.
Earlier, Dr. Simforoush, head of Beheshti Medical Sciences University’s Urology Group had said “the Iranian kidney transplant model has impressed the world!”
Meanwhile, manager of one such hospital says that they’ve made two million dollars in the past year through medical tourism. But when it comes to Iranian people, low-income population in particular, they can’t use the services such hospitals offer, no matter if they’re insured or not, and have to skip a meal so they can afford their cold, burn or bruising medications, as the social security insurance has excluded such widely used drugs from its coverage, thereby offering them only as paid drugs, so it can recover its capital fast and in cash.
Regime’s recent decision, which is going to put more healthcare and livelihood pressure on low income population, will undoubtedly fuel the flaring furnace of people’s protests.