Kuwait lawmakers call for postponement of expat health charge increase

Published:  23 Mar at 6 PM
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Responding to calls by affected groups and lawmakers over the inability of many expats to pay the increased charge, one Health Committee member is recommending postponement of the extra fees.

Kuwaiti MP and member of the National Assembly’s Health Committee Khalid al Otaibi agrees in principal with the increases but is concerned that a large number of expat residents aren’t earning enough to be able to afford to pay the extra amounts. Although he understands the need for extra funding to cover the cost of the latest in medical devices, he believe a humanitarian solution must be found for expat residents who now can’t afford basic healthcare.

Al Otaibi believes at least part of the health fees list can be reconsidered, with especial focus on medical examination fees, unaffordable to the majority of lower-income workers in the emirate. He pointed out some charges are higher than their equivalents not only in other Arab states but also in a number of European countries’ medical facilities, making wide-ranging, swinging reductions a necessity.

Health Committee member Dr Hamoud al Khudair also feels it’s possible to cut down some fees, in spite of the fact that the increases are now law. He prefers the introduction of some form of wide-ranging health insurance plan rather than simply increasing prices to the extent than many expatriate communities will be left without affordable healthcare. Health insurance, he believes, should be linked to expatriate residency permits.

A number of other lawmakers seem to be coming out in favour of either reducing the fees or establishing some type of healthcare insurance, with one suggesting the insurance should be linked to the fee paid to extend residency permits. Several also feel the issue isn’t just about fee increases, but also involves addressing the demographic imbalance in the emirate. The solution, they say, is improving peoples’ lives, jobs and wages as a precursor to charging extra for essential services such as healthcare.
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