Increase in medical fees
Health Minister Dr Jamal Al-Harbi announced new increases in fees for health services by mid-February. The new price list released by the ministry of health shows a significant increase in fees for those who enter Kuwait on visit visas. Local newspapers published the list of the new charges.
This issue has two sides. Firstly, the state has the right to refuse to be a centre of free treatment for non-residents and temporary visitors who come on visit visas to meet their relatives in Kuwait. I know Arab expat residents here who used to bring in their relatives on visit visas only for treatment and take advantage of the free or cheap medicines and services. In my view, this is a mistake, because no country in the Gulf provides visitors complimentary medical treatment. No way!
I use medical services in Dubai, for instance. Every time I go there and need to see a doctor, I simply pay the full fees for consultation and therapy and never seek medical treatment free of charge, because it doesn’t exist for casual visitors, not unless they have medical insurance that covers them abroad.
So there is no cause for alarm because it makes no sense that some people bring in their friends and relatives from outside Kuwait to utilise services that should only be allowed for residents. It is very clear now that there is no room for visitors to take advantage of the reduced fees for treatment. The decision is also fair for the people living in Kuwait, especially considering the severe congestions witnessed at medical facilities. The greatest increase will be in the cost of treating tumours – KD 5,000 for visitors – and the reason for this is that the cost of treatment for such illnesses is high and treatment continues for long.
The second aspect is of those who are angry over the increase. They see the interests of their relatives and not that of the state and its residents. A solution for all is possible if all governments set up a health policy for everyone. Health insurance in Western countries is a luxury, but it is still a dream for many people in some Arab countries.
In Kuwait, not everyone has medical insurance, whether citizens or residents, except for some private sector employees and retired citizens. Meanwhile, all citizens in Qatar enjoy this service, knowing that Qatar is the highest spender on health care among Arab states, with a per capita rate of $1,700 per citizen. The numbers indicate that health insurance expenses in Arab countries exceed more than $30 billion annually.
Health insurance must be provided for every employee, whether citizen or resident because it will create strong competition between the public and private sectors. Maybe the interior ministry can encourage private health insurance for visitors who wish to use medical services here and are ready to pay. The increase in fees is coming soon, so it is time to say goodbye to free medical treatment.
By Muna Al-Fuzai
Source: Kuwait Times