by Dr. Hazem Darweesh Zagzoug Posted on February 10, 2014
A prominent medical executive has emphasized the need to revamp the Kingdom’s medical insurance system for the benefit of patients, health services and insurance providers.
“Current health care insurance practices disappoint everybody, including patients and doctors. Even insurance companies are not happy, as they are unable to make profits,” said Hazem Zagzoug, CEO of Andalusia Medical Services Group.
There are no winners in the current price war between insurance companies, he said.
In an interview with Arab News, he said the present system puts considerable pressure on patients, as well as health care providers. “Perhaps the insurance system, with the way it is implemented now, is not meant for us.”
The scheme should be revised to provide a compulsory minimum to all insurance policies. “Leaving market forces to regulate the market with supply and demand has proved insufficient,” Zagzoug said, emphasizing the need for government control.
He said a new system should be introduced, where the government would be the service regulator and payer, while insurance companies would act as third party administrators.
The practicality of the new system depends on the leadership’s vision and political will.
Zagzoug, a second-generation family business owner, entrepreneur, doctor and manager by education, said: “The complex health care industry needs more than just clinicians. I have always liked management and I was fortunate to be able to make a career shift.”
A graduate of King Abdulaziz University, Zagzoug pursued his postgraduate studies at Glasgow University and received a master’s degree in clinical genetics. Zagzoug got his MBA from Glasgow Caledonian University.
“Studying medicine provides very good insight into health care management. It gives you more than just an understanding of the organization from a business perspective. It also gives an insight into how professionals feel and behave in such a complex industry,” said Zagzoug.
He added: “There is considerable social pressure on young professionals to adhere to the classic stereotypes of common clinical roles, which are important and still required. However, the key is to pursue a career where you find your abilities and passion aligned.”
Saudi Arabia entertains the best health care service standard in the region and has a lot of potential, said Zagzoug. “We have one of the strongest private sectors in the region and some operators have branched out and invested in other regional countries.”
The government itself has invested huge funds in the sector over the years and provided world-class tertiary care facilities. “The private and public sectors have to work together to build a stronger health care system that will not only serve the Kingdom, but also promote medical tourism,” the young CEO said.
Zagzoug said: “I am sure the Kingdom can become a top destination for health tourism through sound political leadership, which includes the health minister. If there is a will, there is a way,” he said, calling for the setting up of a higher committee for the purpose.
The CEO said his father, Dr. Darweesh, a pioneer from among Saudi dentists, founded the Andalusia Group. The group owns and manages primary and secondary health care facilities in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Zagzoug joined the group about 14 years ago.