More unrest in the expatriate community in Kuwait where health minister Dr Jamal Al-Harby has prepared a new price list for healthcare service charges for expatriates and visitors - by mid Feb charges are set to increase by almost 500%!
Kuwait officials allege that some expatriates and visitors only visit Kuwait to receive medical treatments, from routine check-ups to more complex surgeries. This puts a strain on the public hospital system and means Kuwaitis have to wait to receive treatments.
Leading IPMI report author and industry analyst Ian Youngmann says, "The allegations make no sense as you have to have a visa to enter Kuwait, local health public services are not good, local private services are not cheap and the insurance cover is not enough to cover more than basic healthcare."
Kuwaiti Lawmakers Want To Deport Non-Skilled Workers To Reduce Its Expatriate Numbers
Youngmann continues, "Most expats are unskilled Asian labourers in the construction sector and domestic helpers so the Asian community alone outnumbers Kuwaitis. Due to Kuwait's small size and population, the country has always been reliant on foreign workers to fill key positions within both the skilled and unskilled sectors."
"2016 saw a pilot to see if a system where public hospitals and clinics will take only Kuwaiti nationals as outpatients in the mornings and expatriates can use the services only in the afternoons and evenings. Anyone going to work in Kuwait needs a residence visa. A medical examination is required, including an HIV/AIDS test. A Civil ID card must be carried at all times. The sponsoring employer normally takes care of administrative matters."
Healthcare Services Fees and Charges In Kuwait For Visitors And Expatriates
According to local media, the new fees are as follows:
The new charges for the treatment of tumours with TheraSphere will increase from $330 (KD100) to $1,635 (KD500) for expats and $16,350 (KD5,000) for visitors. Treatment of bone cancer with isotopes will increase from $165 (KD50) to $1,635 (KD500) for expats and $3,270 (KD1,000) for visitors while charges for x-rays and laboratory tests such as thyroid gland testing will rise from $50 (KD15) to $130 (KD40) for expats and $295 (KD90) for visitors.
Cardiac test fees will also increase from $33 (KD10) to $165 (KD50) for expats and $330 (KD100) for visitors while ischemic heart testing charges will rise from $100 (KD30) to $165 (KD50) for expats and $330 (KD100) for visitors. Blood plasma test charges will go up from $65 (KD20) to $820 (KD250) for expats and $1,540 (KD470) for visitors.
Additionally, pregnancy ultrasound charges will increase from $33 (KD10) to $100 (KD30) and CT scans will now cost $260 (KD80) and MRI scans $390 (KD120).
The price hikes are one in a series of new expat related changes in Kuwait.
MP Ahmad Al-Qudhaibi said, "We said earlier that the price increases without studies is rejected, and this is what happened when the government decided to raise gasoline prices in a wrong way. So the government must take steps before taking a decision that will not have positive results."
Is any ones guess.
Due to the fluctuation in the price of oil some MPs support the increased fees on expats, but say they should not be heavy. Others MP's are against it while some pointed to the KD5 billion that expats remit abroad every year - maybe some of this needs to be invested in Kuwait? Perhaps next week Government will role out a new residency program tied to investments in Kuwait. Nothing would surprise us.
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