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Qatar: Compulsory health insurance system introduced

On June 28, 2022

Qatar has introduced a compulsory private health insurance system for all non-Qatari residents, including visitors and those employed in the public and private sectors. The new system was introduced under Law No. 22 of 2021 in November 2021 and went into effect on 4 May 2022. The law is being rolled out in phases, and implementation is likely to see delays as the government continues to work out the details.

Previously, all residents – citizens and non-citizens – could avail the services of the Hamad Medical Corporation and state-run Primary Health Centres by paying QR100 (US$28) annually for a health card.

Qatar's cabinet has approved the Ministry of Public Health’s draft executive regulations on the Healthcare Services Law, although its full text has not yet been made public. The draft includes provisions relating to the rights and obligations of the beneficiary of health care services, the responsibilities of the insurance company and health care service providers, and the supervision and control of health care services.

The draft resolution elaborates on several changes to Qatar's health insurance system. As per the Government Communication Office:

  • Citizens receive free healthcare services at government health facilities.
  • Other residents and visitors will require health insurance to ensure access to basic healthcare services.
  • The compulsory health insurance system includes Non-Qatari workers in the public and private sectors, including those not covered by the labour law, like domestic workers.
  • Basic healthcare services are preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services and other services outlined in the Executive Regulations.
  • Employers and recruiters must pay the premium to cover their workers' or recruits' basic services. Employers and recruiters may request a higher range of services at additional rem.
  • Insurance companies must provide health insurance cards or an equivalent and offer networks (hospitals and clinics) tailored to the needs of the insured.
  • Employers and recruiters must follow the procedures in place to notify the insurance company to have a former employee removed from the insurance policy upon the termination of employment or recruitment contract.
  • If an employee or recruit fails to transfer their sponsorship to a new company after their contract expires, the insurance coverage can be extended until the policy to the legally acceptable residency time expires. (It is not clear who will bear the cost of the extension)

The draft resolution also included the obligations of the employer and recruiter:

  • Must provide healthcare services to all workers before granting or transferring residence.
  • Must contract one of the registered insurance companies to cover all workers, annually renew the contract within the required time frames.
  • Provide the contracted insurance company with all the necessary data to register all of the beneficiaries

Though the draft resolution makes no reference to the dependents of non-Qataris, it is likely that their healthcare costs will have to be covered by the family member sponsoring them.