Kuwaiti expats now set for 500% health fees hike

Health charges for expats and visitors in Kuwait are set to increase by almost 500% by mid-February, according to the new price list prepared by the health minister Dr Jamal Al-Harby.

Fees of the services and medical examination provided by the state will still be 20% less than those in the private sector, according to reports. The price hike is to be introduced in a bid to reduce the number of visitors and expats who seek to take advantage of low healthcare charges in the country, according to reports in local news outlet Arabian News.

This five-fold increase in expat healthcare costs, and in some cases more than ten-fold for certain tests, is another blow to the expat communities in Kuwait that currently represent two-thirds of the total population of the country.

As reported, a group of Kuwaiti MPs have introduced a move to greatly reduce the number of expats, with plans to deport 1 million expats suggested within a 5-10 year period. The motion being considered by the Kuwaiti government. also includes to limit the number of single nationalities within the expat communities to 30%.

Last year around 29,000 expats were deported from Kuwait, an increased rate of almost 80 expats daily, security sources revealed. Among the reasons for deportation include simple traffic offences to more serious criminal violations.

‘Burden on state’

Health minister Al-Harby told Arabic news site Al-Rai  that daily medical service costs are now a burden on the state’s general budget due to rising prices of medical equipment and medication. He said advanced medical examinations and nuclear tests that are not currently available in the private sector will be charged 50% of the cost.

The new charges for the treatment of tumours with TheraSphere will increase from US$330 (KD100) to US$1,635 (KD500) for expats (a hike of 495%) and US$16,350 (KD5,000) (a 4950% increase) for visitors.

Treatment of bone cancer with isotopes will increase from US$165 (KD50) to US$1,635 (KD500) for expats and US$3,270 (KD1,000) for visitors while charges for x-rays and laboratory tests such as thyroid gland testing will rise from US$50 (KD15) to US$130 (KD40) for expats and US$295 (KD90) for visitors.

Test fees increase

Cardiac test fees will also increase from US$33 (KD10) to US$165 (KD50) for expats and US$330 (KD100) for visitors while ischemic heart testing charges will rise from US$100 (KD30) to US$165 (KD50) for expats and US$330 (KD100) for visitors. Blood plasma test charges will go up from US$65 (KD20) to US$820 (KD250) for expats (a 1260% increase) and US$1,540 (KD470) (a 2369% increase) for visitors.

Additionally, pregnancy ultrasound charges will increase from US$33 (KD10) to US$100 (KD30) and CT scans will now cost US$260 (KD80) and MRI scans US$390 (KD120).

The Kuwaiti health minister told  Al-Rai that the impact of the changes to the fees on expats on a limited income will be studied once the fees have been introduced.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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