Expat Focus International Healthcare Update October 2022
Healthcare news is no longer dominated by Covid-19, but there have been signs that the virus is once more on the rise. As vaccine efficacy starts to wear off, remember to check with your local health authority when you can get your next booster. In this month’s round-up, we look not only at Covid-19, but also at other healthcare news currently affecting expats.
Oman: health fees slashed for expats
There’s some good news for expats resident in Oman. The government announced in September that it is slashing health fees for expats who need health checks in order to apply for residency permits. The new regulations will be introduced from 1st November. If you’re applying for residency and need a health check, you will need to be referred via a SANAD office, to a private health clinic. There is a fee for referral of OMR 30 (around US$78), but the actual test will now be free.
UAE: C-section rates high among expats
If you’re an expat mum-to-be in the UAE, you may already be aware of a recent report in the region showing that Emirati mothers prefer natural births, but expat mums often opt for C-sections. Giving birth in another country, with perhaps very different approaches to maternity, can be a challenging experience. Dr Surekha Pai, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at NMC Royal Hospital in Dubai, says:
“[Emiratis] plan to have more than one child and know that it is the first delivery that determines all future deliveries. The expats want C-sections primarily because they plan to have one or two deliveries and don’t want to endure the pain and wait for a long time in labour.”
UAE maternity units are apparently counselling expats on the advantages of natural birth, but it does need to be stressed that giving birth is a highly individual issue, and it’s crucial to choose the approach that seems right for you. If you’re intending to have a C-section, make sure you make your wishes clear to your maternity support team. The private section in the region has a higher number of C-sections, but Paul Bosio, chief medical officer of Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi, cautions that:
“When you look at C-section rates, you need to take into account the population of patients that the provider looks after. We have a disproportionate number of complicated pregnancies that are referred to us because they’re high risk. Our rate is influenced by the fact that we’re a tertiary maternity hospital, which does complicated pregnancies more than anybody else. So, that rate for me as a tertiary hospital I’m comfortable with. If I were a provider just looking after normal pregnancies and not a lot of complications, then I would want to have a lower rate.”
Indonesia: Covid-19 vaccine programme expanded for expats
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammad Syahril said in late September that Covid-19 vaccines for expats would be available. In order to receive your vaccination, however, you will need a Temporary Stay Permit Card (KITAS), a Permanent Stay Permit Card (KITAP), or a residence permit. You will also need a passport number.
If you fit into one of the following categories, you will need to register through the information system for a Covid-19 vaccination and get an e-ticket from the PeduliLindungi.id website:
• An expat who has not received a vaccination at all anywhere
• An expat seeking your next dose of vaccination, or
• An expat who wants to get a booster.
New Zealand: healthcare professionals needed
The New Zealand healthcare sector is reporting significant personnel shortages across all sectors, and the government has recently set up a fast track to residency pathway for certain professions. Enrolments in nurse training have been falling, and one in five nurses are due to retire in the next few years, leaving gaps in this critical medical sector. GPs are retiring, too, and the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) has estimated shortages at 24% in fields such as psychiatry, anaesthetics, dermatology and neurology.
The healthcare sector in New Zealand is a top employer of expats. Industry organisations report that of the 17,000 doctors who were registered with the New Zealand Medical Council in 2019, over 40% were international medical graduates, and 27% of nursing staff were internationally qualified. If you’re a medical professional and interested in relocating to New Zealand, you can find more information about jobs on KiwiHealthJobs.com.
USA: safety and healthcare ‘top concerns’ among British expats
Earlier this month, the Daily Express reported that 60% of British expats in the States are unhappy with the cost of healthcare. The American healthcare system is one of the best in the world when it comes to sophistication and quality of care, but it’s expensive, and the process of registering with insurance – and claiming it – are labyrinthine. Apart from those whose insurance is covered by their employer, the cost of US healthcare seems to be making many expats think twice.
International Health Insurance Countries Report 2022
The International Health Insurance Countries Report 2022 has now come out from the world’s largest market research company ResearchAndMarkets.com, covering 177 countries, with some interesting findings in a market described by insurers as ‘dynamic’ and ‘fast moving’. These findings include the following:
- More countries now require that all non-citizens have private medical insurance or international private medical insurance
- The number of expats is increasing
- There is an increasing tendency for nationals and companies working overseas to have IPMI with an insurer or broker based in their home country
- There is a massive growth in regional insurers
- For 2021, several countries report a large uptake in IPMI and PMI
- For 2021 and 2022, IPMI insurers reports more customers and more revenue
- The increase in waiting lists at state hospitals has driven people to buy private healthcare and health insurance
- Many countries now require that all entrants to the country – both visitors and expats – have health insurance. This is often vague as to whether it is IPMI or travel health insurance
- The number of people working digitally has increased. Employers have seen that employees in certain sections can work partly or fully online. Many countries now have digital nomad visas, and most demand that the applicant provides proof of health insurance.
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