Expats in Oman must now have private healthcare insurance

Published:  16 Oct at 6 PM
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Oman is preparing to issue a new law requiring the purchase of healthcare insurance by nationals and expats working in its private sector.

According to the Times of Oman, the announcement of the new law by the Omani minister of health indicated enforcement by early next year. Currently, just 10 per cent of expats working in the emirate and around nine per cent of Omani nationals actually have private healthcare insurance, although it’s a mandatory requirement. The introduction of a new law forcing compliance is expected to provide a large market for private health insurance products.

The recent trend of insisting on mandatory healthcare insurance for expats has already spread across a number of Gulf States, and includes both self-funded and employer-funded policies. Abu Dhabi was the first to instigate the ruling, with other Gulf States following in quick succession. Nowadays, most other major expat destinations in the region including Dubai are rigidly imposing the law.

According to Oman’s health minister, the aim of the new law is to accelerate efficiency and quality in the private healthcare sector, thus forcing it to compete with the public healthcare sector as a result of improvements in its financing. At present, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have established the rule, with Kuwait recently announcing its own version and Qatar’s already established.

Meanwhile, reports suggest Kuwait’s reputation as a Middle Eastern hub for expat talent may be failing due to shorter stays in the emirate by senior expat professionals. The cause is reputed to be an increase in red tape as well as contractual and residential challenges. In addition, the push for Kuwatization has led to feelings of unease amongst the expatriate population.

A growing number of highly-qualified expats working in the private sector are leaving or planning to leave after taking up positions in other Gulf States whose prejudice against expatriates are more successfully concealed. According to recruiters, finance executives, medical specialists and top-quality Western educators are among those who’ve already left or are wishing to relocate.
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