New medical fees expected to double state revenues: experts

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Expats laments hike in medical service charges

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 1: Economic experts are expecting the state revenues to double after the new charges for medical services offered to expatriates are applied, reports Al-Anba daily.

They said the revenues, due to the increased charges of medical services, are expected to increase from KD 130 million to KD 300 million, which is 130 percent higher than the revenues of last year.

The experts affirmed that the fruits of the hike in medical charges will be evident in the budget of 2018/2019. They expected the revenues from some medical services such as dialysis, Xray, medical tests, and artificial limbs to rise from KD 9.5 million this year to KD 16 million in the coming year.

Ministry of Finance had previously approved to set the budget of Ministry of Health for the fiscal year of 2017/2018 at KD 2 billion and 800 million, which includes KD 9 million to be offered as bonus for excellent performance.

Meanwhile, economic expert Yahya Kamshad stressed the new medical charges must be enforced without any exception in order to allow the decision to produce the required result which is to solve the budget deficit.

Another economic expert Bader Al-Otaibi said the decision will help in increasing the non-oil revenues, which will in turn positively affect the public budget. According to sources from Ministry of Finance, the estimated budget of Ministry of Health for the fiscal year of 2017/2018 is about KD 2.1 billion with 11 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, a number of expatriates lamented about the increase in the charges of medical services, stressing that the process began with the increase in fuel prices, followed by increase in electricity and water tariffs and now the medical services, reports Al-Anba daily.

The average salary of expatriates is about KD 400 per month, half of which goes for paying rent while the other half is never enough to cover the remaining expenses such as for education, transportation and food. Therefore, if any of the family members require medical service, they do not have the money to cover that expense. Umm Asma is an expatriate patient who often visits the clinic of respiratory diseases at one of the state hospitals. She wondered how she can spend KD 10 per month instead of the current KD 2 that she spends at the clinic.

According to her, there is no longer any difference between the public and private hospitals. She said families with low income usually prioritize food and shelter.

Therefore, if they cannot afford paying the medical bills, they will be forced to neglect taking care of their health.

Sayed Mohammad, another expatriate, corroborated to what Umm Asma said. He indicated that the move to increase in the charges of medical services for expatriates is not in line with the humanitarian attitude adopted by Kuwait towards the poor countries around the world. Another expatriate Umm Ayah stressed that the new charges for medical services will force expatriates to give up their right to receiving medical services at public hospitals and will instead opt for private ones, as the costs are similar, there will be lesser crowd and there will not be any need to make appointments.

Mustafa Mohammad, an expatriate who has been working in Kuwait for years, said he has good health and did not come to Kuwait as a patient, adding, “If I was suffering from any disease, the authorities would have prevented me from coming to Kuwait”. He urged the concerned authorities to show mercy when it comes to offering medical treatment for expatriates, as they are suffering from high expenses of rents, education, clothes and food.

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