The healthcare system and health insurance in Saudi Arabia
Health insurance in Saudi Arabia used to be free for expats and locals alike. However, the government decided that costs had become unsustainable and changed the rules. It’s now only free for Saudi citizens. As public healthcare no longer covers foreigners, expats must have proof of insurance to get their residence permit approved.
Healthcare provision is fairly prevalent throughout the Kingdom, including public, private, and military hospitals. However, most expats will generally only use private clinics and hospitals.
Who needs health insurance in Saudi Arabia?
Everyone living in Saudi Arabia needs health insurance. This includes employers and employees, spouses as well as all family members of employees. It also includes any foreigners who choose to move to Saudi Arabia. In fact, expats will be unable to receive their work or residence permit without proof of insurance.
Public health insurance in Saudi Arabia
All Saudi citizens have free public health insurance. This grants them access to comprehensive care, including hospitals, clinics, and outpatient services. It also includes dentists, pharmacies, and rehabilitation centers. However, expats in the Kingdom do not have access to these services.
Private health insurance in Saudi Arabia
Who needs private health insurance in Saudi Arabia?
As an expat, you must have private health insurance if you want to live and work in Saudi Arabia. Your employer will include health insurance as part of your benefits package. However, what your premium will cover can vary. So, be sure to go through your policy with a fine-tooth comb.
Keep in mind what health cover you actually need. Is dental work part of the plan? What maternity costs receive coverage? What are your co-payments? Which hospitals and clinics can you visit? These are all things you should consider. Also, keep in mind that insurance policies can vary substantially in price. This means that some of the more affordable ones might not be accepted at the larger, more popular or reputable hospitals and clinics.
The advantages of getting private health insurance coverage in Saudi Arabia
The good news is that even if your employer’s insurance is insufficient for your needs, you can always top it up. This means you can purchase additional private cover for things like chiropractic treatments or a contact lens stipend. In fact, you might even be able to negotiate additional private insurance in your benefits package.
Seeking additional private insurance can provide some key benefits. This could include access to the Kingdom’s best facilities or high-quality dental care. You might even find insurance that offers emergency evacuation should there be political unrest. So, take some time to consider what you and your family need and check if your employer’s insurance meets them. If not, start researching additional insurance.
How does private health insurance work?
Typically, employer-provided health insurance works on a co-payment system. That means even with insurance, you’ll likely have to pay something for treatments or care. Triple check your insurance policy to see what you’re responsible for and under what circumstances. Keep in mind that many employers’ insurance may provide only basic care. So, your co-payments – or out-of-pocket payment for specialized treatment – may be high. That said insurance premiums in the Kingdom are competitive, with plans available for less than SAR 7,500 a year.
How to choose a health insurance provider
As an expat, your employer will likely provide your insurance. However, this means you won’t have much choice in which insurance provider you use for your basic cover. Although, you may be able to negotiate a different insurance package with your company that better meets your needs.
However, if you’d like to take out an additional, top-up private insurance premium, be sure to shop around for the best deal. Make sure you find one that covers all the medical needs of you and your family.
Health insurance providers in Saudi Arabia
If you’re looking for additional private health coverage in Saudi Arabia, there are a number of international insurers that operate in the country.
Health insurance costs and reimbursements
Premium costs depend on the individual. For example, factors like how healthy you are, how often you seek medical care, and how strong your insurance policy is will all mean different prices. Although expats use a co-payment system, things like medications are heavily subsidized. This means you may end up spending less than you anticipated.
To get the best idea of what you’ll pay, see what your employer-provided and additional private insurance (if any) actually covers. That way, you’ll be able to estimate your costs more accurately.
Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
All Saudi nationals receive free public healthcare regardless of their employment status. However, for expats, things are a little different. That’s because everything is tied to the employed person in your family. Your employer must provide proof of your employment and your health insurance package in order for you to get a residence permit. Your spouse and dependents are then included in your insurance package. If your employer fires you, however, you automatically lose your health insurance and your right to stay in the country. You, and any dependents, will have to leave the Kingdom.
Domestic workers, who are often low-earning expats, are exempted from mandatory health insurance. Instead, their sponsors take responsibility for their health-related expenses, either by registering them in a Health Center or by paying out-of-pocket for any treatments.