The ongoing conflict between Jordanian insurance companies and the Jordan Medical Association (JMA) sheds light on the gaps within Jordan’s healthcare system. This conflict extends beyond mere financial disputes between the parties; it embodies a broader systemic challenge that could jeopardize the right to health for hundreds of thousands of Jordanians.
The fundamental principle of the right to health is enshrined in international Human Rights law, specifically the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which emphasizes that this right is not a privilege but a fundamental, universal right that every state must ensure.
The core principles of the Right to Health assert that all citizens, regardless of their social or economic status, should have access to the highest attainable standard of healthcare. However, this vision of health as a universal right is currently being challenged in Jordan, highlighting the disparity between the government’s responsibilities and its economic decisions.
Over the past three decades, the government’s pursuit of austerity measures in line with the directives of international financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund, has resulted in significant transformations in the national healthcare landscape. The private sector no occupies a prominent role in Jordan’s healthcare system. This is the result of the state’s declining role in providing quality medical services, thereby creating space for the private sector to fil this gap in healthcare.
This shift from a state-centered healthcare system to a market-driven one raises doubts about the government’s commitment to safeguarding citizens’ Right to Health. The state should not only play a regulatory role but also act as a guarantor of this right.
The decline in the state’s commitment to ensuring the Right to Health and providing healthcare services, whether intentional or unintentional, has led to prioritizing corporate interests over those of its citizens. What is even more concerning is the government’s passive stance toward the outcomes of this conflict, assuming that market dynamics will naturally balance themselves. This approach risks the lives of people and is akin to gambling with their well-being.
Even if insurance companies and the JMA eventually reach a settlement and common ground, the terms of their agreement could negatively affect citizens. This will likely manifest in the form of higher insurance premiums, reduced coverage, or limited access to essential medical services.
It is imperative for the government to reconsider its approach to ensuring the Right to Health. It is bound to respect and uphold this right and take effective measures to enforce it. There is an urgent need for a transformative shift, one that redefines the state’s role not as a player receding from its responsibilities, but as a vital actor expanding its role in ensuring comprehensive healthcare.
The conflict between insurance companies and the JMA is a symptom of a broader issues within Jordan’s healthcare landscape. As such, it presents an opportunity to review all aspects of this landscape, rebuild it on clear foundations that affirm the non-negotiable nature of Human Rights, and redefine the Jordanian state’s genuine commitment to guaranteeing the health of its citizens.