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Healthcare System in Saudi Arabia: A Model of Advancements and Access

HealthHealthcare System in Saudi Arabia: A Model of Advancements and Access

The facilities and options 

Saudi Arabia operates a mixed public and private healthcare system, each providing quality services. Roughly 60% of the healthcare is provided through the government’s Ministry of Health and consists of:

  • Primary health care 
  • Hospitals
  • Specialist services
  • Outpatient services

The $2.4 billion annual expenditure, or 4.7% of GDP, is a key healthcare statistic and indicator. Saudi Arabia ranked 55th on the Health Care Index.

The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties governs all healthcare professionals in the Kingdom, and all healthcare facilities and services are free for Saudi nationals.

Access to healthcare in Saudi Arabia

The free public healthcare system is available to all Saudi citizens and public sector employees. The free services available under this umbrella are:

  • GP visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Dental treatment
  • Medicines

Ex-pats living in Saudi Arabia have access to healthcare through private hospitals, clinics, and private health centers. Non-Saudi nationals require mandatory health insurance, and the employer generally provides this. An ex-pat can have additional insurance if needed.

Cost of Healthcare in Saudi Arabia

With the growth in the Saudi population over the last 20 years, there has been a substantial increase in healthcare spending. Keeping this in mind, the government is developing a close partnership with the private sector towards a paid-through insurance system.

Before 2005, the government paid for all healthcare in Saudi Arabia. It was free for all residents of the Kingdom. In 2005, the Saudi government introduced compulsory health insurance requirements for non-nationals, and in 2016, extended it to Saudis working in the private sector. There are plans to expand this coverage to other Saudi nationals, too.

Healthcare costs for ex-pats will vary and depend on the type of facility they choose, the insurance plan they take, and the treatment they seek.

Health insurance in Saudi Arabia

As mentioned earlier, if you relocate to Saudi Arabia, you will require health insurance, and your employer should arrange this for you.

The Council for Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) administers the country’s insurance system, and it states that all private organizations should provide insurance for their employees and dependents. There are, however, still some companies that do not provide this coverage to their employees.

Currently, 26 health insurance providers operate in Saudi Arabia, with an average premium of SAR 1,759.

Employer-provided insurance will generally provide basic coverage and will not include dental coverage, etc. For this reason, many ex-pats top up their company-provided insurance with an additional policy.

Registering for healthcare as an ex-pat

Your employer must register you for private health insurance and provide you with a health insurance card. You can use this card to avail yourself of personal healthcare services and facilities in case of need—services such as doctors, hospitals, or therapy treatments.

Registration procedures vary with different insurance providers; you will need to provide the following in all cases:

  • passport/valid photo ID
  • visa/residence permit
  • proof of address

The Saudi National Portal provides details on accessing various health treatments.

Private healthcare system

Private healthcare contributes a significant portion of Saudi Arabian healthcare. As a result, the Saudi government has increased private sector investment through the Public Private Partnership (PPP). 

Government subsidies paid for all public healthcare in Saudi Arabia till 2005. After that, the government introduced compulsory health insurance for non-nationals and extended it to Saudi private-sector employees in 2016; there are plans to expand the system to other Saudi nationals. Individual healthcare costs for ex-pats will depend on the nature of their health insurance plan and what treatment they need.

Health insurance in Saudi Arabia

Upon your move to Saudi Arabia, you will require a health insurance policy, which is your employer’s responsibility.

The Council for Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) oversees the country’s insurance system and states that all private sector companies must provide insurance coverage for workers and their families. Despite this requirement, many companies still don’t offer this.

Currently, 26 insurance companies provide health insurance in Saudi Arabia, and generally, the average premium cost is SAR 1,759.

Employer insurance policies generally provide basic coverage (e.g., no dental coverage), so many ex-pat workers top up with more comprehensive private insurance.

How to register for healthcare as an ex-pat

As ex-pats can’t utilize public healthcare in Saudi Arabia, no standardized registration procedure is issued for this.

Your company/employer should register you for your health insurance, and once this is done, you’ll receive a health insurance card. This health insurance card will be used for all private healthcare services and facilities you may require, like therapies, doctors, or hospitals.

Registration requirements vary across different individual providers; however, you’ll likely have to provide them:

  • Proof of address
  • Residence permit or visa
  • proof of address
  • passport/valid photo ID

You can always check the Saudi National Portal for access to various health treatments.

Private healthcare system

Private healthcare plays a significant role in the Saudi Arabian Health System; as a result, the government has managed to attract private sector investments through its Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The government has also set its goals to increase the private sector healthcare provision to 35% by 2020.

Healthcare System for Women

The quality of women’s healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia is good. 

Contraception and female hygiene products are readily available at pharmacies and other stores; the morning-after pill remains banned in Saudi Arabia.

Healthcare System for Children

The child health program promoted by the Ministry of Public Health includes areas such as:

  • Healthy diet and growth
  • Encouraging breastfeeding 
  • Dental hygiene<