Saturday, December 29, 2007

Medical insurance in Saudi Arabia

A very important aspect which an expatriate has to take care in his contract before arriving in the Kingdom is regarding health care.
In big cities, there are good hospitals, but the same cannot be said of smaller towns #-o It is rather difficult to generalize, and probably the only way to find out whether your doctor is good or not, is only by word of mouth from other expatriates. There are hospitals which do not have the best of facilities but excellent doctors. There are also hospitals which have top of the range facilities in terms of patient care, but unfortunately not so good doctors >:P You have to make a judicious decision.
Whatever be your hospital or dispensary, health care in Saudi Arabia is an expensive affair and I would advise you to immediately take an insurance card, otherwise it would cost you a fortune X( In most of the cases, atleast with good sponsors, the company takes care of your medical AND dental requirements. Please ensure that this is clearly mentioned in your contract. Note that "Medical" does NOT cover "Dental", that's why I have mentioned the two separately.
Another important aspect is the type of insurance which your sponsor has taken. Not all insurance companies give 100% coverage, in the true sense. For example, your contract may actually mention that you are covered 100%, but you may actually end up paying a nominal amount (usually SR20) for every visit to your neighbourhood doctor, even though you have an insurance card with you :-B
Theoretically, for a family of four, if you visit the doctor or dentist once every month, this itself amounts to 960 riyals a year - not a small sum indeed! This downpayment of SR20 (or sometimes SR30) may be quite baffling, because you may think you are covered 100% and do not need to pay anything, but that's how the system is. However, for bigger insurance companies where the premium is more, the company takes care of this initial payment also, so you have to put it in black and white in your contract, whether you are REALLY covered 100% or not.
Usually, for dental coverage, insurance companies pay only for extraction / filling or surgery. Cosmetic surgeries and the like (including artificial teeth / bridges) are NOT covered :-w Also, it is normal practice that reading and power glasses are not covered by insurance, i.e., the doctor's consultation would be covered, but not your frame / lens. The only exception would be safety glasses provided by your company, if you are working in a factory.
Hence, if possible please go to a good eye doctor and buy your frame / lens in your home country. After all, there is no place as good as home B-)


Sarker said...

I am doctor, working in KSA since 3yrs.I was before under company, now under MOH but i am still bearing company iquama,not yet been transfered(iquama),if i get shahada tarif from hospital by using this iquama can i apply for visit visa for my family?plz inform me.
With thanks

Expatguru said...

Doctor, I am not aware of why you have waited for 3 years to get your sponsorship transferred. It is in your own interest to get your sponsorship transferred immediately, to avoid complications in future. God forbid, if you land into some unforseen trouble in future, your current employer will simply wash his hands off, even though he may be MOH, because on paper you are still under the sponsorship of your old company.

Regarding your query, technically your sponsor is your old company, so he is still responsible for approvals regarding your family visit / resident visa. But my advice to you would be to first get your papers right by getting your sponsorship transferred to your current employer and then process your family visit / permanent visa.

Anthea said...

Dear Expatguru,

I am a lawyer and I have a query: If a company in Saudi provides Medical and Dental insurance to its employees, can it downgrade the insurance to only provide medical? I understand that this can be done for new joinees, but what about existing employees of the company? Can their medical insurance be downgraded?

Expatguru said...


It all depends on the contract between the employer and the employee. If there is a specific written commitment in the contract that the employer will cater to both medical and dental and then the company downgrades it to only medical, then it is illegal. But if there is no such commitment or if nothing is mentioned in the contract (either for new or existing employees), then one cannot force the employer.

SHAHBO said...

Hi Guru,
I need your help regarding family visa. i understand it is necessary to have degree or at least diplomat certification to apply for family visa. i dont have degree certification but i do possess a diploma certificate from Cambridge College UK through distance learning. Do i have to get my diplomat certificate attested by saudi embassy from home country or from uk embassy. fyi. FYU. my profession in iqama is Sales Representative.


Expatguru said...


It should be attested by the Saudi embassy in London. Try to get the help of a professional agent for this.

Faisal said...

Hello Expatguru,
I am in khobar. My question is that though for me, my company is covering health insurance, can I have insurance for my wife and kid independantly (from another insurance company)?
If so, could you please give me a list of some health insurance companies in Khobar area?

Expatguru said...


You can of course take an insurance for your family. However, it may probably be at your cost. I am unable to give a list of insurance companies at the moment. Maybe you can check with your nearby hospital or do a simple Google search.

svswamy said...

i am working on free visa, is it necessary to take insurance now to renew my iqama. one of my friend said, it is not necessary for renew. please, update in this issue with fight and accurate information.
thank you,

Expatguru said...


Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this, which would get you a personalized reply.