Expats in Kuwait will have to pay a $33 (KD10) fee to access medical treatment in what is the second hike in healthcare fees for foreigners since 2017.
The aim of the fee increase is to cut congestion at public hospitals and allow government-run clinics to take in more patients, Kuwait's health ministry said.
The move comes after the country increased healthcare fees for foreigners for the first time in more than two decades in 2017. At the time, the ministry said that expatriates who have annual health insurance would need to pay KD2 ($6.63) at a polyclinic, KD5 at a hospital, KD10 at outpatient clinics and KD10 per day at public wards.
A stay in intensive care was also changed from being free to costing KD30 ($100) per day and a stay in a private room in a hospital was set at KD50 ($165.70) per day not including surgeries, tests and x-rays.
Maternity costs as well as the prices for surgeries were also increased.
Later that year, Kuwait also more than doubled the annual health insurance fees for expats. Kuwait Times cited the CEO of Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) as confirming the fee increase from KD50 ($165) to KD130 ($430) to cover primary and secondary healthcare.
The price hike saw Kuwait's public hospitals register a 30% drop in foreign patients.
Attorney Abdullatif Al-Ameer has filed a petition at the Legal Affairs Department in the Ministry of Health against the government's decision to increase the fee for expatriates visiting the Emergency Department in public hospitals. He considers the decision unjust and in violation of laws, in addition to misuse of authority and international norms, hence, demanding for its cancellation, says Al-Seyassah.
In a press statement after filling the petition, Al-Ameer indicated that the decision is a form of misusage of the health minister's authority, and that it is in violation of the Constitution, common and Islamic laws. He revealed his objective is to ensure that the principle of equality is implemented as stipulated in the Constitution.
'The Constitution states that people are equal in dignity and humanity," he noted, adding that this decision attracts damages which will be difficult to catch up with, primarily, the economic imbalance in private sector contracts where expatriates constitute 90% of the labor force. He pointed out the ministry took the decision in order to reduce the burden on the Emergency Department in public
Expats currently make up around 70% of Kuwait's 4.6 million population.