Saudis Demand Expats Take Out Private Health Cover

The Saudi Arabian government is at least taking steps to make health services more available to expats.

Health care is one of the most expensive expat hidden costs of moving to a new country – and can easily be overlooked.

The Saudis have set up a private health care insurance umbrella for expats with insurance companies linking up with more than 2500 hospitals to offer cover.

Although most expats from Europe and the USA to Saudi Arabia are typically high-paid consultants or diplomats, nearly seven out of 10 of the country’s population of population of 30 million are expats.

Most are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and work in poorly paid jobs, often in bad conditions where they are exploited by local businesses.

Millions of expats covered by insurance

These expats are unable to afford expensive health care.

Around 100,000 expats for Western countries live in Saudi Arabia, mostly in gated communities or plush apartment blocks.

“This new scheme means every expat working for a company or sponsored by an individual will receive health care regardless of their income,” said a spokesman for the Health Ministry.

“In the past hospitals and doctors have charged patients fees, but now these will be paid by insurance companies.”

Expats entering Saudi Arabia must now show they have valid health cover, even if they are visiting for a short time.

USA most expensive place to give birth

The USA is the most expensive country for an expat mum to have a baby, according to a new survey by the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP).

The States tops the table for normal deliveries and C-sections.

The same three countries take the next places – Switzerland, Australia and The Netherlands, while Spain takes the fifth place for normal births and Argentina the same place for C-sections.

Recruitment and human resources consultancy firm Jelf International explained that maternity benefits can increase private insurance cover prices by up to 20%.

The firm also warns expats to check their cover to make sure the policy covers pregnancy and birth costs plus post-natal treatment.

“Maternity cover is one of the most expensive costs for expats,” said a spokesman for the firm.

“The cost of delivering a child in the US can be £6,000 without considering any post-natal treatment.”

For an international comparison of private medical costs