In one of the essential steps toward the wholesome development of the state of Qatar, a new insurance scheme for health services was decided upon in November 2021. Signalling at revamping the existing health insurance scheme in Qatar, the Ministry of Public Health (“MOPH”) announced that compulsory health insurance would be applicable to all expatriates and visitors in Qatar starting May 2022.
The largely expatriate population in Qatar has been growing, and the pressure on the national health system has been increasing. The mandatory health insurance comes at a time when Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 and expecting an influx of visitors. Here’s a brief of how will the latest scheme work.
The New Law: Who will be affected and how?
The MoPH issued a statement that mentions the new mandatory health insurance will be implemented for all expatriates living in Qatar and those visiting. The new law number 22 of the year 2021 is due to enter into force in May 2022 and consists of 6 chapters including 48 articles governing health services.
The revamping of healthcare laws introduces significant changes to the current health insurance in Qatar. Here’s how.
- Expatriates, current businesses and visitors to Qatar need to update their health scheme as per the new requirements provided in the Law.
- Article (8) of the Law mentions both expatriates and visitors must have private health insurance during their stay in order to receive basic healthcare services.
- Employers must enrol their non-Qatari employees and family members on the mandatory health insurance scheme with insurance companies identified by MOPH.
- The same applies to sponsors of expatriates (such as employers or recruiting agencies) in Qatar to provide basic health coverage.
- Employers are required to prove their employees have been enrolled with the mandatory health insurance scheme when issuing or renewing their residential permits. Basic health insurance will be a prerequisite for obtaining any form of permit or visa; unlike the current requirement for individuals who are more than 60 years of age.
- Additional healthcare services above the basic health insurance requirement may be provided by the employer or recruiter as applicable on the contract.
- Under Article 32, fines and penalties will be issued to employers or sponsors who fail to cover their staff, pay their insurance fees or collect any amount of money relevant to the insurance fees.
- The above will also be applicable to insurance companies that deal with unregistered providers or insurance meditators under Article 30.
- Details of the regulations can be accessed on the official website of MOPH, Qatar.
How does the new health insurance change affect the insurance market in Qatar?
Introduced in Qatar in 2013 the SEHA scheme included a single, state-owned insurance company NHIC (National Health Insurance company) which provided the basic health cover to expatriates and Qatar nationals. SEHA was administered by an outsourced TPA (Third-party administrator).
During the end of 2015, the SEHA scheme was scrapped by the hitherto MOPH and NHIC was duly liquidated. Health insurance had to be reverted to a temporary private medical scheme.
The new health insurance scheme of Qatar seems to have taken into consideration the private insurers that have been officially identified and are authorised to offer prescribed minimum levels of cover as mentioned in the scheme.
Implementing the new scheme does not imply that foreign insurers, brokers or TPAs who presently have no presence in Qatar will be precluded from participating in the same. They are required to set up and get the requisite authorization from the MOPH. The details of implementation of the regulations are still awaited.
What do you need to do as a business or an employer?
The new health insurance scheme does not only affect the insurance market, rather employers, recruiting agencies and TPAs. Employers will need to acquaint themselves with the latest developments while healthcare providers in Qatar will require to find out the prescribed level of benefits that are mandatory under the new scheme.
The latest announcements are that the new health insurance scheme will first apply to visitors. Full details of how the scheme will work and be implemented are still awaited.