Law for compulsory health cover for all

Bahrain has ratified the National Health Insurance Law that paves the way for comprehensive health cover for all citizens. It will allow the private sector to compete with the public sector and encourages service providers to obtain national and international accreditation. The Supreme Council of Health is however yet to publish information on how it intends to implement the law.

The law also paves the way for a new National Health Insurance Authority that will invest funds to generate income.

Bahrain’s proposed national health insurance programme is intended to be implemented in 2019.

It will require all citizens, residents and visitors to pay monthly contributions to a medical insurance fund in exchange for access to primary health services in public and private hospitals and medical centres.

Expatriate home workers, including housemaids, drivers, gardeners and nurses, will be covered for free under the scheme. 105,000 domestic workers registered in Bahrain will be granted the same health privileges as Bahrainis, with no extra charge for their employers. The government will bear the cost of medical care for Bahrainis, as well as their domestic staff.

All other expatriates will have to contribute to their medical costs, replacing the partial health cover paid for by their employers.

Charges for the compulsory expat health insurance will be made through the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) when work permits are issued or renewed. This will apply to 450,000 expatriates, according to the government.

The services that will be provided free for Bahrainis and expat domestic workers include medical check-ups, diagnosis, treatment and primary healthcare; laboratory examinations and X-rays; operations; maternity and child care; hospitalisation for treatment and rehabilitation; dentistry excluding cosmetic procedures; psychiatric treatment and consultation; physiotherapy; In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF); liposuction; cosmetic surgery; medicines required for treatment; medical aid devices; cost of one travel companion if the case requires it; ambulance services; long hospitalisation; chronic illnesses; and any services added later by the SCH.

Bahrainis will be able to seek these services for free at government-owned medical facilities. Those choosing private sector hospitals or clinics will have to pay no more than 40% of the cost, with the government picking up the balance.

GCC citizens, expatriates married to Bahrainis and children of Bahraini mothers will receive the same benefits. Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) personnel are not included, as for the time being BDF has opted out of the scheme and will continue to offer medical treatment in BDF run hospitals.

The BDF Hospital will be an option in the scheme as well as the King Hamad University Hospital, which is currently under military management, with plans for it to be independent by the end of 2018.

Foreign visitors to the country will also be covered for emergency healthcare, although the cost of visas will increase as a result.

Whether Bahrainis will be able to get paid for treatment abroad is not yet decided.

View the latest IMTJ country report on medical tourism in Bahrain.