Expatriates in Kuwait not keen on new health insurance plan

April 12, 2011
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A Kuwaiti government plan to improve health services by increasing insurances fees for expatriates has waded into controversy.

Under the plan, the government will establish the Kuwait Health Assurance Company (KHAC) to relieve some of the pressure on public hospitals crowded with Kuwaiti and expatriate patients.

Three health insurance hospitals and 15 polyclinics will be built under the new scheme, with the capacity of the hospitals at 1,600 beds.

However, the new plan will increase the fees paid by expatriates for health insurance, from KD50 (Dh664) to KD130 (Dh1727) per year. The increase will be applied in five years, when the new hospitals are ready.

The amount will include all medical services, from check-ups to laboratory tests, which expatriates currently pay for, even in public hospitals, the Kuwait Timesreported on Sunday.

However, the announcement sparked protest and resentment from expatriates who already find the KD50 to be too expensive.

“I’m strictly against this decision,” Gary, a 37-year-old Filipino told the daily. “I have a family and the amount I’m already paying is too much for me. They always say we do not pay taxes in Kuwait but I would prefer to pay taxes than pay this amount for a medical insurance that I may not even use.”

According to Layla, a 42-year-old Syrian, the KD130 should be optional. “I think the expatriate should have the choice to either pay KD50 for the current services or pay the proposed KD130 to get the promised better medical services,” she said.

“I also think there should be a difference in the amount according to the age and health condition of the person. For instance, young people do not need all these additional services, but older people, or those with diabetes, should pay because the risk of illness is higher,” Layla said.

Fatma, a 27-year-old Iranian, said it was unnecessary for her to pay the insurance fee since she neither suffered from any chronic disease nor got ill frequently.

“I find KD130 to be a huge amount. If it provided complete coverage for services in private hospitals, I would agree. But I would not like to find out later that some of the promised services are not included in this payment or that I still have to pay more for the same test,” she said.

Mohammad, an Indian expatriate, disagreed with the decision and said it might bring protests from expatriates.

“I think they will protest,” he said. “Where I work I have to pay a compulsory KD50 in addition to what I already pay my employer for additional health care. I think the KD130 will be too much,” he told the daily.

However, Suha, a 31-year-old Lebanese, said she endorsed the proposal.

“I do not go to public hospitals anyway,” she said. “I always go to private clinics for medical treatment. I do not mean to insult public hospitals, but I just feel more comfortable in the private ones. With the new proposal, I will pay less in the end but I have to make sure that the provided services are of the same standard as the ones in the private sector.”

Around two thirds of Kuwait’s total population of 3.3 million comprises expatriates.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/kuwait/expatriates-in-kuwait-not-keen-on-new-health-insurance-plan-1.790022

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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