A proposed government plan that will halt public health services for expats will lead to them facing difficulties receiving treatment in three years’ time. Government officials recently discussed a timetable for establishing expat-only hospitals that will be run through higher-cost private health insurance. In addition to upheaving the local public and private health sector, the change is bound to create a host of problems for expatriates in Kuwait.
The Health Ministry is in the planning stages of possibly implementing a ban on expats access of public health facilities. Dr. Khaled Al-Sehlawi, the ministry’s undersecretary, giving his reasoning in a local Arabic daily yesterday, saying that there are two categories of expatriates in Kuwait and the first encompasses nearly two million foreigners working in the private sector who will be able to receive healthcare at the insurance hospitals that will be built in three years’ time.
The second class of foreigners, approximately one million, includes domestic servants and those who work in the public sector. According to plans they will practically fall under an alternative health plan. This group would be treated in private medical facilities, but the details of their health insurance coverage are unclear.
The news released last week also opened queries into the ability of the private health sector in Kuwait to handle the large number of expatriates who will be moved to the new hospitals once health insurance is canceled. Sehlawi offered his reassurance that the private medical sector is fully equipped to handle the group.
Following the opening of the new hospitals, expatriates’ annual health insurance fee will most likely triple to maybe around KD150 compared to the present KD 50. In addition, the current plan seems to indicate foreigners will be required to buy the health insurance policy from a particular company to access medical services at specific hospitals.
The cabinet has asked official government bodies to study the proposal to cancel health services subsidization for expatriates in view of Kuwait’s attempts to reduce the government budget that has been under strain due to the drop in international oil prices.