Bahrain inches towards expat healthcare plan
Manama, October 4, 2008
Bahrain's plans to make health insurance compulsory for expatriates could be finalised at a two-day workshop this month.
Experts will focus on the country's preparations and try to establish a timeframe for its implementation, our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News has learnt.
About 150 researchers, insurance industry executives and public health officials from Bahrain and the GCC are expected to take part.
Medical insurance is being made mandatory for foreigners in an effort to cut government health spending, as well as ease the burden on public health facilities by involving the private sector in their treatment.
Bahrain currently spends BD20 million ($53 million) a year on caring for sick expats, said Bahrain Insurance Association (BIA) medical and life director Younis Jamal.
'This represented around 5.22 per cent of the total government expenditure on healthcare last year,' he added.
The workshop will start at the Mšvenpick Hotel on October 12 under the patronage of Health Minister Dr Faisal Al Hamer.
Discussions are expected to focus on existing schemes in other parts of the GCC, comparing their experience with Bahrain's strategy.
Representatives from the Health Ministry, Central Bank of Bahrain, Labour Market Regulatory Authority, Industry and Commerce Ministry, Economic Development Board, private hospitals and insurance companies will take part.
The event is due to take place from 9am to 2pm on both days.
The GDN had previously reported that a new 'dummy' billing system was being brought in at Salmaniya Medical Complex in preparation for compulsory health insurance for expats.
The Health Ministry is also working on a pilot study on the costs of medical services and the implementation of a billing system, a crucial component of the compulsory health insurance system since it will allow insurance companies to deal with SMC when settling medical claims.
Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Aziz Hamza had earlier told the GDN he was not in a position to say when the compulsory health insurance scheme would be implemented.
A proposed draft health insurance law for non-Bahrainis was presented to the Shura Council on April 25 last year.- TradeArabia News Service