The Gulf state Oman is preparing to join a number of its regional neighbours in requiring nationals and expatriates working in the private sector to have health insurance.
The announcement was made by the country’s minister of health, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid Al Sa’eedi, and carried on the website of the Times of Omanand other regional publications’ websites. The new regulation will be enforced from early next year, according to the reports.
Currently only 9% of Omanis and 10% of expats in the private sector are said to be insured, suggesting a potentially large market for private health insurance providers.
As reported here last year, growing numbers of countries are requiring foreigners arriving to work on their shores to prove they’ve got a health insurance policy, whether purchased by the individual or paid for by their employer, before allowing them in.
Last year’s report included Oman among a number of countries that were known to be considering making health insurance a requirement for foreigners and expatriates (see chart, below).
Joe Thomas, April International’s UK business development director, told International Investment that in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi was the first jurisdiction to introduce mandatory health insurance regulations, “but now the Dubai Health Authority and most other major Middle Eastern expat destinations are imposing the rule rigidly”.
According to the Times of Oman, the Omani health minister said the aim of the new health insurance plan was “to raise the quality and efficiency of the private health sector, which must compete with the public health sector, and this cannot happen unless there is proper financing in the private health sector, which could come from health insurance”.
Speaking at a health conference in Muscat, the minister added, according to the report: “We must find new ways to finance the health sector.”
According to the Times of Oman report, health insurance is currently already mandatory in Oman, but the law isn’t enforced.