By Sarah Townsend
Compulsory health insurance scheme will apply to all residents including expats and visitors
The final phase of Qatar’s compulsory health insurance scheme will come into effect from next year, it has been announced.
Minister of Public Health Abdullah bin Khalid Al Qahtani told local media that the third and last phase of the Social Medical Insurance scheme (Seha) will apply to migrant workers, domestic helpers and visitors to Qatar.
Under the scheme, employers will pay the cost of insurance for their staff and the premium will not be deducted from their salaries.
There will be separate insurance packages for different segments of expatriates, and the insurance for visitors will cover emergency services only, according to a report in Gulf Times.
Qatar’s National Health Insurance Company (NHIC) was set up three years ago to implement and monitor Seha, and it is to be the sole provider of insurance cover for basic medical services.
The first phase of Seha was launched in July 2013 for Qatari females aged 12 and above. The second phase launched in April 2014 to include all Qatari citizens.
NHIC CEO Dr Faleh Hussein told a press conference Seha has paid out a total of QR1.285 billion ($330 million) as of 21 October.
However, Gulf Times said he refuted reports that the invoices received by the company from the private healthcare sector had amounted to QR10 billion – and claimed strict controls were in place to prevent health insurance fraud and malpractice.
NHIC has refused invoices amounting to QR 317 million from the private health sector since the introduction of the scheme, while the amount of recoverable funds has totalled QR103 million, he added.
However, two residents were arrested recently for using other citizens’ identity cards for treatment in private hospitals.
And a clinic was suspended from providing services after it was found to have submitted false invoices totalling QR5 million, which has reportedly now been recovered.
Health insurance costs are prepared by to independent advisory bodies; they are not set by service providers, Hussein said.
“The prices are being revised periodically in coordination with the Supreme Council of Health on the basis of the data received through the claims and expectations and changes in the prices of services in the sector in order to achieve a fair price for all parties,” Hussein was quoted as saying.