Qatar insurance: a threat to outbound medical travel?

From May 2022, a new mandatory health insurance system comes into force in Qatar, covering travellers, international students and all expatriates, including domestic workers, labourers and employees. Will this reduce state paid outbound medical travel?

Under the system, companies will provide insurance to their expatriate workforce and individuals for their family members. Every expatriate who enters or works in Qatar will be required to have basic health insurance through the company they work for or provide health insurance cover for their family members.

There will be a basic health insurance policy with varying amounts for all targeted groups as well as a mechanism of implementation. The mechanisms for implementing the mandatory health insurance system will link insurance to renewing the residence permit or upon entering the country.

A basic health insurance policy will be for all groups, and then a person can take additional insurance through private health insurance companies.

Expats will have healthcare in selected centres so freeing up public hospitals for citizens. This will potentially reduce the need, at least for state paid healthcare, for Qataris to go abroad.

The population of Qatar is 2.94 million, which includes 2.11 million expatriates. Within the new system there is no mechanism for sending expats or their families abroad for any medical care.

The Ministry of Public Health has confirmed that Law No. (22) of 2021 regulating health care services will help develop and organise the health sector in the country.