The Guardian | Saeed Kamali Dehghan: When Ali’s father-in-law had a stroke in the Iranian city of Shiraz last year, the 67-year-old shopkeeper was rushed to Namazi hospital, where he received treatment for 20 days, including six days in intensive care.
While his father-in-law recovered, Ali turned his mind to how he would pay for the care. He borrowed money to build up a 100m rials (£2,000) reserve. But when he picked up the bill, it amounted to just 5.8m rials (£116).
“We thought they may have forgotten to add a zero,” he told the Guardian. “I looked at my brother-in-law, and we laughed. This was considerably less, it was almost nothing.”
Before he fell ill, Ali’s father-in-law had joined the healthcare programme brought in during President Hassan Rouhani’s first term, a scheme announced in 2014 and nicknamed Rouhanicare, in apparent homage to Obamacare, Barack Obama’s patient protection and affordable care act. It meant that Ali and his family were only expected to pay a fraction of the total 128m rials.
In the course of the past three years, Rouhani’s health ministry has insured nearly 11 million Iranians, meaning that those who were not previously covered, like the unemployed or the poor, are now protected.