Oman makes health insurance mandatory for expats

Oman’s government recently released a plan stating health insurance is now required by law for all those working within the private sector. The current international private medical insurance (iPMI) market is quite small but is expected to grow in January 2018 when the law comes into effect. With only 12.35% of private sector workers being Omani, what does this mean for the large expat community working there?

Why is health insurance now mandatory?

Oman’s minister of health, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid Al Sa’eed said the need for this new law is due to the competition between the public and private health sector. Right now, the public health sector is far more efficient and provides a better quality of care. In order for the private sector to improve, it requires funding which will become available through an increased number of people becoming insured. Mandatory health insurance for expats is a bid to find a new way in financing the private healthcare sector.

What does this mean for expats?

Right now, only 10% of expats in Oman have health insurance so the iPMI market will soon be flooded with new customers. Expats should start looking at different providers now so that they are covered in time for January 2018.

New expats arriving in Oman will need to have cover in place before arriving in the country and some employers will offer to arrange this for them. There will always be the option to pay extra for more cover or to arrange your iPMI independently.

Why iPMI?

Many countries across the world with a large expat community such as Dubai encourage workers towards iPMI rather than other insurance options that offer less coverage. It is thought that Oman will do the same to ensure expats are taking the maximum amount of responsibility for their health, placing less financial pressure on the state.

iPMI is the most suitable type of insurance for those working and living in a country for over one month. It usually includes benefits such as:

  • Routine in/out patient treatments
  • Emergency admissions
  • Treatment for chronic conditions
  • Access to most, if not all, hospitals in the country you are living in
  • One plan for couples or families who have a working family member

An emerging trend

Oman is not the first gulf country to make health insurance for expats a legal requirement, nor will it be the last. Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are expected to have the same law in place by 2020.

In the past, there have been a number of cases in countries with a large expat community where people could afford neither healthcare in the country they were working in nor a flight home. They could not receive the medical care required which led to their ailments worsening over time, creating complications. The efforts put in by these governments is to ensure all expats are protected and to avoid situations like this in the future.