Kuwaiti lawyer demands court repeal expat heathcare cost increases

Published:  5 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Citizenship
Kuwait’s Administrative Court is expected to give a ruling on the legality of the recent expat health charges increase by 25 October.

Kuwaiti attorney Hishim al Refai recently filed a case for consideration by the Administrative Court against the swinging increases in expat healthcare charges, citing illegality and unconstitutional amending of a law already in force. The charges have already caused many lower-paid expats working in the emirate to send their families back to their home countries, as well as decreasing the number of expat patients arriving at public hospitals by 30 per cent.

Al Refai’s take on the new law is that the existing law cannot be either amended or overruled except through a similar law. He also points out that laws cannot simply be changed or cancelled by either ministerial decisions or decisions made by others below ministerial level. In his submission, he affirms that a number of articles in the Kuwait constitution oblige the government to focus on the health of its population by providing healthcare to everyone resident in the emirate.

In addition, he refers to the Kuwait Constitution, which states all people are equal as regards human dignity, with duties and rights not simply limited to citizens but to ‘anyone living on the land’. This, he argues, means there can be no distinction between expats, wherever their origin religion or language, and Kuwaiti nationals. The government’s response to his arguments is that he has no interest in the case as he is a citizen, with al Refai’s reply explaining he is a breadwinner, owner of a law office and runs a business whose clients include a significant number of expats.

Al Refai goes further against the government’s defence, saying the new laws interfere with his business interests, are illegal and are a violation of international agreements as well as the International Declaration of Human Rights. He believes the decision to charge expats far more than before for their healthcare tarnishes the emirate’s reputation, especially as expats working within the Ministry of Health are exempted from paying the increases.
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