It’s a bad week for expats in Kuwait using the public health care system as medical fees are expected to soar, according to an article published in the Kuwait Times.
The ministry undersecretary, Dr Khalid Al-Sahalawi refused to reveal the new charges, however he confirmed that a report, stating the reasons for the need to raise fees, was submitted to Dr Khalid Al-Obaidi, Minister of Health who would make the final decision.
Kuwaiti nationals currently receive all their medical treatment for free, expats on the other hand must pay an annual fee in order to access the public facilities. On top of this, if an expat requires services like x rays or specialist treatment, they must pay additional costs too.
Despite these changes, Dr Khalid Al Sahalawi has confirmed that some services will remain free to expats, including accident and emergency treatment.
Strain on public infrastructure
The public healthcare system in Kuwait is of a high standard and available to both Kuwaiti nationals and expats. However, with the influx of expats entering the country, now an estimated 1.8 million, there is an enormous amount of pressure on the system.
Access to public healthcare has been subject to debate in recent years because Kuwaiti nationals complain about the waiting times and overcrowding in the hospitals. There have been suggestions by the Kuwaiti government to segregate healthcare between the locals and the expats. This latest news simply adds to this issue of contention.
Plans to build expat hospitals
The Kuwaiti government have introduced a development plan made up of “mega projects”, one of which focuses on the health care system. If these plans are implemented, expats can expect to be segregated from Kuwaiti nationals, while still receiving the same high standard of health care in one of the 11 new hospitals.
The new buildings will aim reduce long backlogs for x-ray and laboratory services and enable shorter waiting times. The preparations are still ongoing, however, the contract has been finalised and operations should begin by early next year.