KUWAIT CITY, Aug 6: The social media has been abuzz with comments on the Ministry of Health’s announcement of new fees for medical services offered to expatriates that will be enforced by the beginning of October, drawing mixed reactions from the public.
A doctor pointed out that referring the patient to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a difficult decision and it is limited to patients whose lives are in danger. He inquired about the situation of a laborer whose salary is KD 100 in case he needs to be confined in the ICU for a few days and if he requires a complicated surgery. He said the laborer will pay a huge amount — thousands of Kuwaiti dinars — under such circumstances.
Another doctor commented, “The ministry must establish a system obligating sponsors to provide comprehensive health insurance for their employees. The State should not shoulder such expenses, especially for laborers with low salaries ranging from KD 100 to KD 200.”
Several citizens also stressed the importance of obligating the companies to provide health insurance for expatriate employees, so they can benefit from medical services in public and private hospitals. Some doctors support the idea of improving medical services but it should be done on a humanitarian basis.
They argued most expatriates come to Kuwait to do jobs that citizens do not accept, yet they receive low salaries so they cannot afford the high fees for medical services. On the other hand, some of those who support the new fees argued that the decision ensures justice for all, citing the high fees for medical services offered to Kuwaitis citizens in other Arab and foreign countries.
Also, sources from the ministry explained the medical services for expatriates have become a burden on public budget; hence, the decision to increase fees. They said the expatriates with low salaries can ask for assistance from charitable societies and Zakat House to help them pay for the medical services they need.
Meanwhile, the expected revenues to be made from the new charges for health services offered to expatriates including visitors and residents are nearly KD 170 million. From this amount, 20 percent will be sent to the State Treasury. The decision will come into effect from October quoting informed sources.
They explained that the revenues of Ministry of Health will increase after the decision to increase the charges of health services by nearly 131 percent is applied. This will increase the total revenues by KD 300 million, which is much higher compared to the KD 130 million worth revenues of last fiscal year.
Doubling the fees in health centers, outpatient clinics and wards, as well as increasing the charges for tests and medical examinations by more than five times will contribute to an increase in the revenues of Ministry of Health which will reflect on the item of revenues in the state’s budget for the current year and appear fully in the budget of 2018/2019 fiscal year.