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Tue 27 Oct 2009 08:13 AM

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Healthcare costs puts Bahrain's free service in jeopardy

Prohibitive costs mean the government cannot go on providing free healthcare - minister.

Bahrain’s free healthcare system is in jeopardy from rapidly rising costs, the Health Minister Dr Faisal Al Hamer said on Monday.

The kingdom’s annual health budget, currently BD170m a year, is set to more than triple to BD553m by 2025, making free care for all impossible, Gulf Daily News reported.

"We are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the costs of providing free healthcare to the people and have no option but to go on to compulsory health insurance to offset some of the costs," Al Hamer told the Bahrain World Economic Summit 2009.

"The costs are prohibitive and we cannot continue to go on with free healthcare (for all). Sooner or later, we have to think of other ways and insurance is the answer."

The compulsory health insurance bill for expatriates is currently with Parliament and is expected to be approved soon, Al Hamer said.

"The second step will be insurance for Bahrainis and that is when the burden on the ministry will ease considerably," he said.

"The healthcare cost is escalating so rapidly that no government, irrespective of its wealth, can continue to provide free health care,” he added.

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