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A Guide to Healthcare Systems in Saudi Arabia

HealthA Guide to Healthcare Systems in Saudi Arabia

Did you know Saudi Arabia spends 4.7% of its GDP on healthcare? 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.

Ex-pats 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 the Ministry of Health takes care of 60% of health services.

While the healthcare services are free for Saudi citizens, even in the future, the government plans to privatize 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, general physician services, dental treatment, and access to prescription medication. 

Ex-pats: 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’s Budget

As stated above, health insurance is mandatory for ex-pats and 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 seek. 

Health insurance in Saudi Arabia 

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

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 coverage.

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 ex-pats.

Private-sector employers issue health insurance cards that can be used to access 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, which applies to private and public healthcare facilities.

Of the 450 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 unavailable elsewhere. 

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.