Reducing outbound medical travel from Qatar

A new healthcare law with compulsory insurance, and better local healthcare in Qatar, is likely to reduce outbound medical tourism.

The draft law will make it compulsory for all expatriates, overseas students and visitors to have health insurance to access basic state healthcare in Qatar.

The law has been discussed for several years and it is still going through the long Qatari legislative process. It has been passed by the Shura Council and by various government bodies.

The draft law on health care services has 47 articles and six chapters and stipulates that the provision of health care services to citizens in government health facilities will remain free of charge.

The Ministry of Public Health will set standards for the provision of health care services in government and private health facilities as well as compulsory health insurance and supervision. It has also committed to provide an integrated, high-quality, efficient and sustainable health system and to work on developing and maintaining compulsory health insurance.

All new or renewed entry visas for expatriates or visitors, residence permits and employment permits for expatriates, will not be issued until proof is given that they hold compulsory health insurance for the duration of the stay.

The draft law defines the rights and duties of patients that must be observed when receiving healthcare services; the obligations of the parties to the insurance contract and providers of health care services; and the penalties for violators of its provisions.

There is no date for when the legal process will end or the new rules begin.

Whether the compulsory cover is a state scheme or offered by competing insurers is not yet decided but either will likely significantly reduce the number of Qataris going abroad for medical care.