Oman insurance may cut outbound medical travel

Oman’s Council of Ministers issued a decision to implement a national insurance policy in 2017. It will be compulsory for companies to provide their employees and their families with health insurance from January 2019. This will in the long term reduce the number of Omanis going overseas for medical treatment.

Implementation of the national insurance programme is expected to take place in phases. The initial phase at the beginning of 2019 will be all companies with more than 100 employees and all consultancy firms. From May 2019, it will extend to companies with more than 50 employees. All other employers will comply later in 2019, with the implementation of the final phase. The dates and categories are still provisional.

Work is in progress to include the linking of insurance companies to hospitals and an electronic system for medicines and treatments to prevent manipulation and price increases. Much work has to be done to develop basic policies, systems and controls.

Oman’s Chamber of Commerce previously stated that health insurance cover should be provided to all private sector workers by 2018. Tough market conditions and government austerity measures have made providing insurance to workers less of a priority for some businesses. This reform comes in the wake of statistics showing how few employees in the private sector, both nationals, and expatriates, are provided with health insurance.

To work properly, the local health sector needs considerable improvement. The compulsory medical insurance aims to curb the pressures placed on government-run medical facilities, as the increasing population takes its toll on the resources.

Many Omanis in the private sector do not have health insurance, so the introduction of compulsory insurance will almost certainly reduce the number seeking treatment overseas.

It will be a huge surprise however if everything is ready for January 2019, mid to late 2019 or even 2020 is more probable, as no legislation has yet been tabled, yet alone passed.

IMTJ estimates over 70,000 Omanis travel abroad for medical treatment. For a detailed analysis this outbound medical travel, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.