Getting Healthcare insurance in Saudi Arabia

healthcare insurance
Here is what you need to know about getting healthcare insurance in Saudi Arabia.
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Settling abroad in your new home and figuring out your healthcare needs simultaneously can be quite stressful, but help is at hand; read along as we detail the options available to you. Health insurance is mandatory in Saudi Arabia, easily accessible, and quite straightforward. So, put your feet up and read up on the health insurance types, options, and requirements available in Saudi Arabia.

Our Little guide walks you through everything you need to know on the subject.

Health insurance and the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia

In the past, health insurance in Saudi Arabia was free for everyone, ex-pats, and locals. However, faced with the substantial growth in the population, the government has decided to reduce the cost burden as these healthcare costs have reached an unsustainable level and changed the rules. Healthcare now is free only for Saudi citizens. The public healthcare program no longer covers foreigners; ex-pats have to provide proof of insurance for their residence permit approval. Healthcare facilities are easily available throughout the Kingdom and include private, public, and military hospitals. Ex-pats will generally be limited to using healthcare facilities at private clinics and hospitals.

Following are the key points you ‘must’ keep in mind when deciding what health cover will suit you the best; does it include dental work? Are maternity costs covered? What are your co-payments? The hospitals and clinics can you use? All of these are important considerations. Also, bear in mind that the insurance policies vary substantially in price, which can mean that some of the more affordable policies might not be accepted at popular or reputable hospitals and clinics as these would be more expensive too.

Private health insurance coverage advantages.

An upside is that even if your company insurance is insufficient for your needs, you can always top it up with your own purchase; this means you can add private cover for chiropractic treatment or a contact lens purchase. 

Read: Healthcare for Women in Saudi Arabia

You can negotiate additional benefits to your package. These add ons to your private insurance provide key benefits, like access to the best facilities in the Kingdom or higher quality dental care. There is insurance available that offers emergency evacuation should there be any sort of political unrest. So, do take some time in considering your family’s requirements and review these against your employer’s insurance policy. If you are not satisfied with the insurance cover provided by your employer, then you need to research and add further insurance cover.

Private health insurance, how does it work?

Most commonly, employers provided health insurance to employees on a co-payment system; that is, even with the company insurance, you are likely to have to pay some portion of your bill for health treatments or care. Triple check and understand your insurance policy very clearly to see what portion of the cost you are responsible for and under what circumstances. Many of the employer-provided insurances provide only basic care. Hence your co-payments or the out-of-pocket payment for certain specialized treatments could be high. Insurance premiums in the Kingdom can be competitive in their prices, and there are plans available for under $2,000 a year.

Choosing a healthcare insurance provider

As an ex-pat, your employer will provide you your basic insurance. This, however, will mean you don’t get much of a choice in which insurance company you use for your basic cover. You may need to negotiate a different insurance package with your employer, one that is to your satisfaction and meets your requirements.

In case you do end up taking out additional insurance, make sure you shop around for the best deal, one that covers all the medical needs you and your family may require.

Insurance cost and reimbursements

As anywhere else in the world, the premium costs of healthcare insurance depend on the individual. Insurance companies factor in data like your current health, how often do you seek medical care, and the coverage you seek in your insurance policy; all of these factors put together will reflect in the cost of your insurance. Even if ex-pats use co-payment, medicines are heavily subsidized, resulting in a lesser expense than anticipated.

To get the correct idea of what you may need to pay for health insurance, check what all your company insurance covers and then get quotes for any additional coverage that you may require. This way, you’ll be able to get an accurate estimate of the additional insurance.

Healthcare insurance for the low-income earners and the unemployed

Saudi nationals have free access to public healthcare facilities regardless of their employment status. It is a little different for ex-pats, as everything in the healthcare system is tied to the employed person in the family. Your employer has to provide proof of your employment and the health insurance package in order to get a residence permit for the employee, the spouse, and children are included in the insurance package. In the event your employment is terminated, you lose your health insurance automatically and your right to stay in the country. You, and the dependents, will be required to leave the Kingdom.

It is again different for domestic workers (maids, drivers, etc.); these are often low-waged ex-pats and are exempted from mandatory health insurance. Their sponsors, instead, take on the responsibility for their healthcare expenses by either registering them at a Health Center or by paying for their treatments themselves.

Getting health insurance in Saudia is easy, all you need to do is to know exactly what options would you need in case of an illness.

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