Expats in Saudi to be forced to have private health insurance

Published:  19 May at 6 PM
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Given that health care is one of the most expensive necessities for moving overseas, Saudi Arabia’s setting up of a private health plan for all expats would seem to be a good idea.

According to online reports, the Saudi government’s new, compulsory private health plan will be backed by insurers and linked to more than 2,500 hospitals in the kingdom. The majority of Western expats in high-level professional positions either have heath insurance or can afford private care, but the huge number of expats from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan should welcome the scheme.

Western expats working in Saudi number around 100,000, with the vast majority living in upscale condo blocks or gated housing communities. A spokesman from the Saudi Ministry of Health explained that the total number of expats in the kingdom accounts for 7 out of 10 of the entire population, and all will be covered by the new health insurance plan regardless of their status or income. He added that expats entering the country will now have to prove they have valid health cover, whatever the length of their stay.

Meanwhile, Oman is cracking down on spouses of expat workers operating small businesses from their homes. According to a representative of the Royal Oman Police, online complaints about the practice have sparked a joint team comprised of police and officials from the Ministry of Manpower in order to take action against offenders.

Expat spouses in Oman are able to stay on their husbands’ family visas, but are specifically prohibited from working. Complaints mostly concerned cake-baking and other food preparation businesses working from home and selling the produce online. According to an official, arrest, deportation or a fine await for those found working illegally in this manner.

Several Omani trade associations including the local Chamber of Commerce are backing the police action, saying that foodstuffs prepared in this manner are unhygienic and a health risk to consumers. Local entrepreneurs point out that working at home saves money on costs and doesn’t employ locals, nor do those involved pay taxes as do legitimate businesses.
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