Aasandha spending up 60% in last 5 years

Minister of Social and Family Development; Dr. Aishath Shiham was summoned to parliament's Wednesday sitting for questioning -- Sun Photo/ Fayaz Moosa

Minister of Social and Familly Development Dr. Aishath Shiham on Wednesday said government's expenditure for Aasandha increased 60% in the last five years.

Addu City Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam questioned the minister about the state's decision to expand Aasandha coverage to Thailand. The MP posed the question at the parliament's Wednesday sitting.

Dr. Aishath said the state-backed insurance plan's current framework falls short to stop expense wastage, and highlighted the government was increasing its spending on the insurance scheme year-on-year.

She affirmed the state was engaged in revamping the scheme to rectify areas in need of improvement.

The minister highlighted;

  • MVR 1 billion budgeted for Aasandha in 2023; but,
  • MVR 2.3 billion was spent 
  • MVR 1 billion out of the 2023 total was spent to purchase medicine

"Medicine is 70 times more than the standard market rate in the South Asian region," Dr. Aishath underscored medicine is comparatively more expensive in the Maldives.

She added the health insurance scheme's expense rose 40% by the end of last year in comparison with the total incurred in 2018.

"The government's expense on medical sector is at standard level found that in more developed countries, in terms of the national GDP. This reflects more than twice the expense incurred by other countries in this region," she commented.

"Despite the significant expenditure on medical insurance, families and patients still take it to social media seeking finance for more grievous or critical ailments," the minister added.

She said the ministry has been studying various cost-cutting models for feasibility, before it is adopted into the insurance scheme.

In its efforts for cost management, Dr. Aishath said, the government will prioritize minimizing the omission of any basic service under Aasandha.

"Our efforts are apace for a reforms with the help of foreign experts and all relevant stakeholders, with the aim of a comprehensive solution," the minister further added.

The government allocated MVR 1.9 billion for Aasandha in the 2024 state budget, which is projected to shoot to MVR 3.4 billion according to the Ministry of Finance if the state fails to maintain austerity measures.

Finance Ministry statistics further showed the state spent the highest on Aasandha last year. Moreover, for the past five years, the actual expenditure was 20% in excess of the budgeted total per each year.

Under Aasandha, the state generally incurs MVR 500 million to purchase medicine.