Primary care remains free – “fully,” Schmale said.
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A top UNRWA official defended an unpopular health policy change targeting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, describing it as a sustainable approach to public health and in line with U.N. practices globally. The new coverage plan for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon institutes cost sharing for specialist and referral care, in exchange for covering a greater portion of costs for complex surgery and long-term care. Refugees since Jan. 1 have been required to pay 5 percent of referral care costs if they receive treatment from a Palestinian Red Crescent hospital; 15 percent if from a government hospital; and 20 percent if from a private hospital.The refugees are receiving in exchange expanded coverage for complex surgery and long-term care, with the relief agency now covering 60 percent of "tertiary care" expenses, up from 50 percent, to a ceiling of $5,000, from $4,200 . Primary care remains free – "fully," Schmale said. The agency hopes that cost sharing for referral care will lead to more efficient health outcomes.The agency said the new policy would not deprive the poorest refugees of care.
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