Home » Expat Focus International Healthcare Update March 2023

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update March 2023

Abu Dhabi: New Flexible Health Insurance

The Department of Health and the Department of Economic Development (ADDED) in Abu Dhabi are now offering low-cost insurance options to a range of residents, including expats with an income of more than Dh5,000. The new policy will feature the following:

• Cover of up to Dh150,000 per year
• 100% coverage for emergency treatment
• 20% co-pay to cover all outpatient treatment services
• 30% co-pay to cover medications

Family members who are not covered by state or private employer healthcare in the country can apply for this new kind of policy, as can investors and those who hold free business licences. If you are interested in taking this up, you will need to contact individual health insurers once your existing policy expires.

Dr Mariam Al Mazrouei, an executive director at the DoH, told Gulf News that:

“The DoH continues to update the regulations of the healthcare system in the emirate with the aim of providing world-class health services to all members of the community. The ‘flexible health insurance’ policy…was initiated with the aim of providing a health insurance package that enhances competitiveness in the sector while attracting businesses in the private sector. This is in light of what Abu Dhabi represents as a leading destination for those wishing to develop their businesses in various fields, due to its advanced infrastructure and incentive measures.”

The aim of the new policy is to attract both skilled expat workers and investors, and to facilitate those who want to generate business start-ups.

Australia ‘Steals’ Healthcare Workers

This somewhat provocative headline has appeared in the press in recent weeks, following statements by the Australian government that they are seeking to attract healthcare workers from the UK (along with policemen, teachers and other types of personnel). This initiative has irked the chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care select committee, Steve Brine, who issued the following statement:


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“Any country is obviously entitled to import health care workers – as we do in the UK from elsewhere – but there’s nothing to say our people have to go.”

Conservative MP Tony Bristow added that:

“We need to demonstrate the benefits of working in the UK to help [health workers to] stay. It shows that we need to redouble our efforts to recruit new nurses, new doctors and demonstrate the benefits a career in the UK offers.”

Given that NHS staff have been striking recently over concerns regarding pay and conditions, the UK government might have its work cut out when it comes to competing with Australia’s attractive offer. National secretary of the GMB, Rachel Harrison, says:

“It’s no wonder NHS workers are tempted to up sticks to another health service which pays better. The UK Government has allowed NHS workers’ wages to fall behind, which is a massive factor in health service’s record 133,000 vacancies and missed performance standards. If Ministers want to retain the best asset of the health service – the workforce – they need to talk pay now.”

End of Zero Covid in China Set to Liberate World’s Economy

In 2019, Chinese tourists contributed $277 billion to the global tourism sector – one fifth of the amount spent by overseas tourists. But the Covid-19 pandemic halted this revenue stream, with border restrictions in China preventing its citizens from travelling abroad. This could be set to change in 2023, with China’s largest travel agency, Ctrip, reporting that Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are among the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists. At the moment, the numbers are still relatively low, but this is expected to alter in the final six months of this year, resulting in a resurgence of the Chinese tourist market now that the Zero Covid policy seems to be at an end.

Kuwait: Medical Centre Moves

The medical examination center for expats has been moved this winter, from the Mishrief exhibition grounds to Shuwaikh at the Expat Medical Examination Center. It will be located here until the new Rumaithiya Health Center opens., The Mishrief centre has been deemed a success, with patient waiting time for medical results cut down from a month to four days.

Portugal Tops the Bill of Best Healthcare for Expats

International Living has reported on the top countries for expats when it comes to healthcare. Top of their survey is Portugal, based on the following categories:

• Medical costs
• Efficiency
• Accessibility
• Expat experiences
• Overall standard of care

Ten of Portugal’s hospitals, along with sixteen other institutions, have the Joint Commission International “gold stamp of approval.” Many pharmacists speak English, and the country is well supplied with pharmacies. Care for some specific conditions, such as neurological issues, is considered to be excellent, with some US citizens being advised to move to Portugal due to the high standard of care and lower costs.

Portugal is followed in the listings by Costa Rica, Spain, France, Panama and Colombia. Dental care is cheap in Colombia, with fillings costing between $20 to $50, and the World Health Organisation currently ranks the country more highly than Canada (you will, however, need private health insurance). In Panama, a large number of medical personnel are English-speaking, having been trained abroad, and some of the country’s top hospitals are affiliated with American institutions. Dental care can be half the cost of similar treatment in the USA. With insurance, expats report that their co-pay can be as little as $20 and medical care overall is very cost effective as a result of government subsidies. Retirees are given a substantial number of discounts here, too.

Expats report that in France the national system can be as good as the private sector, with long-term illnesses covered well by the public healthcare system. In Costa Rica, you can buy into Medismart for $14 a month, allowing you access to in-network private clinics, hospitals and doctors, as well as giving you money off your prescriptions.


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