Compulsory health insurance planned for locals and expats in Bahrain

Bahrain’s National Health Insurance Scheme (Sehati) for expats is being brought in late 2020 or early 2021. Expats will be covered by insurance paid for by their employers, which will entitle them to treatment at private and public facilities. Once Sehati is launched, Bahrainis will continue to be eligible for free services at public health facilities, but could pay an additional insurance premium to access private sector treatment. The insurance will reduce the number of Bahrainis seeking treatment elsewhere.

Consultants have been appointed to develop a strategy for applying national health insurance in Bahrain. Marsh Bahrain is working with the Supreme Council for Health (SCH), which will see it draw up a plan for IPMI for the expatriate population. KPMG has been appointed by SCH to draft a plan for nationals.

The Supreme Council for Health has yet to develop policies and procedures for the scheme to ensure its effective sustainability, and there is a scarcity of local health insurers.

In May 2018, the government issued Health Insurance Law No.23 of 2018 that made health insurance coverage compulsory for all citizens, residents and visitors to the country from January 2019.

The law applies to all nationals, residents and visitors (beneficiaries) subject to certain limited exceptions. These exceptions include foreigners associated with diplomatic and related missions in Bahrain.

The first phase of the National Health Insurance scheme has been given the go-ahead. The Cabinet has endorsed the legal tools for its implementation. The planned implementation date of January 2019 was missed, so it will take place by a date not yet known.

The insurance will be funded through subscriptions to insurance packages that are specific to each category of an insured person.

Although the law is now active, the fund and NHRA are still to look at relevant draft laws and regulations, and analyse the impact of existing laws on the system with a view to considering the best way to mitigate or enhance their effects.

The firms will recommend procedures for the National Health Insurance Scheme (Sehati), which will be presented to the government in mid-2020.