A guide to healthcare systems in Saudi Arabia

A guide to healthcare systems in Saudi Arabia
The healthcare system in Saudi Arabia is clearly defined and the private healthcare system is one of the best in the world.

Did you know that Saudi Arabia spends 4.7% of its GDP on healthcare? In fact, the country has stood at 55th position in the 2019 Healthcare Index. Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is value-based with a methodical system in place. 

When people from outside settle down in Saudi Arabia, they often wonder about the healthcare system.

Expats often struggle with healthcare budgets in Saudi Arabia if they do not have the requisite knowledge about how the system works.

This is a mini-guide for ex-pats to help them navigate through private and public healthcare services in operation. Let’s dig in. 

Saudi Arabia’s healthcare is value-based, with private and public healthcare systems at par with each other while 60% of health services are taken care of by the Ministry of Health.

While the healthcare services are free for Saudi citizens even in the future, the government has plans of privatizing some of the public healthcare services. 

Access to healthcare in Saudi Arabia 

Natives and public workers: Saudi natives/citizens and public sector workers have direct access to the public healthcare system in Saudi Arabia.

Free healthcare services include hospital treatment, services of a general physician, dental treatment, and access to prescription medication. 

Expats: Non-nationals get access to private healthcare services and need mandatory health insurance (Ruling since 2005) to be provided through their employers. 

Healthcare: Saudi Arabia budget

As stated above, health insurance is mandatory for expats as well as private-sector employees to access healthcare (Ruling since 2016).

Therefore, the healthcare costs largely depend upon the health insurance plans and the type of treatment you are seeking. 

Read: SAMA Approves Health Insurance For Citizens Outside Saudi Arabia

Health insurance in Saudi Arabia 

The Council for Cooperative Health Insurance oversees regulations about health covers and insurance. Private sector companies or employers have to mandatorily provide health insurance coverage to their employees. 

However, many companies do not provide this, hence it’s advisable that non-nationals moving to Saudi Arabia through jobs must demand coverage since it is the government’s ruling.

In addition, such a cover only includes basic healthcare (not things such as terminal illnesses or dental), thus employees must buy additional health covers.

The average medical insurance premium is SAR 1759 in Saudi Arabia. 

How can you register for healthcare as a non-national?

Since public healthcare is not accessible for non-nationals, and insurance is mandatory by employers, there’s no standardized registration process for expats.

Private-sector employers issue a health insurance card that can be used for accessing private facilities such as clinics, hospitals, doctors, therapists etc. 

You need the following documents to register for a private healthcare facility: 

  • Health insurance card 
  • Passport/valid photo ID 
  • Proof of address 
  • Residence permit or visa 

[Do check out: Saudi National Portal for detailed information on different health treatments] 

Saudi Arabia Healthcare in numbers 

450 58%33%9%
Hospitals Public facilities Private facilities Military hospitals 

What’s the quality of private healthcare in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabian healthcare facilities are considered at par with the West and this applies to both private and public healthcare facilities.

Out of the 450 total medical facilities in Saudi Arabia, 158 are private hospitals including clinics, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient treatment centers.

Most private medical centers have English-speaking staff, shorter waiting times, and even access to treatments not available anywhere else. 

How to find a doctor in Saudia Arabia?

  • Your country’s embassy 
  • CCHI website 
  • Your health insurance provider 
  • Website directories 
In case of emergency Ambulance – 997Emergency – 999 and 991 

Final thoughts 

The healthcare system in Saudi Arabia is clearly defined and the private healthcare system is one of the best in the world.

The key is to know your rights as a non-national and a private employee. 

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