Kuwait has announced plans to increase healthcare fees for foreigners for the first time in more than two decades.
The country’s health minister, Dr Jamal Al-Harbi, confirmed the new fees would apply to non-Kuwaitis from October.
For expatriates who pay annual health insurance the fee for getting medical treatment at a polyclinic will increase from KD1 to KD2 ($6.63), at a hospital KD2 to KD5 ($16.57), outpatient clinics KD2 to KD10 ($33.14) and public wards from free to KD10 per day.
A stay in intensive care will be no longer free and cost KD30 ($100) per day and a stay in a private room in a hospital will cost KD50 ($165.70) per day not including surgeries, tests and x-rays.
Medical check-ups at a maternity hospital will cost KD10 and the delivery of a child will cost KD50, including ultrasound, laboratory tests and a three-night hospital stay, having previously been free. Each additional night will cost KD10 in the public ward and KD50 in a private room.
Open heart surgery will cost KD90 ($300) and each stent KD250 ($830) not including x-rays, medication, tests and hospital stay.
The decision does not include any increase to existing annual health insurance fees of KD50 ($165) for the expatriate, KD40 ($132) for the wife and KD30 ($100) for the child, according to state news agency KUNA.
For foreigners visiting the country medical treatment at a polyclinic will cost KD10, at a hospital KD20 ($66), an outpatient clinic KD30, a day in a public ward KD70 ($232), a stay in intensive care KD220 ($730) and physiotherapy will be KD30 per session.
A stay in a private room at a hospital will cost KD130 ($430) per day and the deposit for a private room KD300 ($994) and KD150 for a public ward.
Major surgery will cost KD500 ($1,657), medium-risk surgery KD300 and minor surgery KD250, surgery needing specialised skills will cost KD600 ($1,988), kidney stone fragmentation KD150 per session, outpatient one-day surgery KD100 ($331), a maternity check-up KD30 and natural delivery KD400 ($1,325).
The ministry said the decision was due to the increasing cost of medicine and modern medical technologies. Healthcare costs have remained the same in the country since 1993.
However, several groups will be exempt from the changes including children under 12 years of age suffering from cancer, non-Kuwaiti wives and mothers of Kuwaiti citizens, children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaiti husbands, residents of care homes, GCC citizens and bedoons.
Other exemptions include official delegations, transit passengers, foreign prison inmates, illegal residents, scholarship students and blind patients.
In addition, health ministry employees, their spouses and children will be exempt from x-ray and nuclear medicine fees and handicapped non Kuwaitis will be treated as Kuwaitis regarding prosthetic limbs.
The ministry stressed that the new fees are far less than the actual cost of health services.
The country has reportedly halted the issuance of family residence visas for the parents and siblings of foreign workers in the country until the country’s National Assembly approves a new health insurance fee list that could see prices more than double to KD130 ($430).