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Updated 3 months ago

If you are planning to live and work in Saudi Arabia, healthcare is definitely something to look into. Here is an overview of the Saudi healthcare system.

Saudi Arabia has developed drastically in the healthcare field while continuing to expand in the years to come. With a booming population, Saudi Arabia has been able to cope with providing an adequate amount of healthcare facilities to serve both the national and foreign population. With over 400 public hospitals and 200 private hospitals, it is easy to feel comfortable with the available care.

Healthcare system

There are two branches of healthcare in Saudi Arabia: the government-state funded and operated Division, and the Private Pay-Per-Use Division.

The government-funded branch of healthcare is only open to Saudi Nationals; it does not serve foreign individuals in the country. The government provides its citizens with a comprehensive healthcare sector that includes clinics, hospitals, outpatient programs, rehabilitation centres, dentistry, and pharmacies. The services to Saudi citizens are completely free and prescribed medication is provided without charge.

For foreigners, the private healthcare division offers a wide range of facilities and services for all your healthcare needs. These include international hospitals, specialized clinics, dentistry, rehab and therapy centres, and much more. To use these services, you must submit payment upon receiving care. That means that you are insured and your coverage includes the full or a percentage of the fees. You also have the option to pay out-of-pocket, but keep in mind that even though healthcare service fees are considerably lower than many other countries, certain procedures and institutions charge exuberant fees.

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance is mandatory for all expats in Saudi Arabia. In fact, in order to renew your residency permit (Iqama), you must first show proof of insurance coverage for the year.

For many expats, medical insurance is covered in their compensation package upon employment. It is wise to fully understand the type of coverage being offered and if that same coverage would be given to your dependents.

Medical Insurance Policies range from very cheap and affordable to rather expensive. Each policy depends on the Insurance Company. You will find that the cheaper insurance policies are not accepted in many of the bigger well-known healthcare facilities in the region, but rather a very short list of smaller-scale cheaper alternative options will accept it. Also, they tend to discount the services rather than cover, leaving you to co-payment for services.

Alternatively, the more expensive medical insurance policies are widely accepted across the region. They tend to offer exclusive fee coverage, as well as perks including private hospital rooms, annual prescription lenses, specialized treatments including alternative procedures like chiropractic rehabilitation and acupuncture, to list a few.

Medication

Most medication in Saudi Arabia is sold without prescription, with very few medications requiring actual prescriptions. Medication in Saudi Arabia is not commonly dispensed, which means that you always buy much more than you need. You are often given the entire pack/bottle, so being cautious about dosage amounts is very important.

Medications in Saudi Arabia are heavily subsidized by the government, which applies to both nationals and expats, making them very affordable. You’re likely to find that medications cost much less than they do in other countries. Keep in mind that you may not find specific medications, however generics of almost all medications are available in Saudi Arabia.

 Important:

Medications brought from your home country will require the original prescription attached to it. Depending on the medication, it may be banned in Saudi Arabia and confiscated upon inspection. Make sure to check the medication allowances before packing.

Vaccination

Before traveling to Saudi Arabia, make sure to be vaccinated against diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, hepatitis, tetanus, and typhoid.

Universal Immunization Vaccines for new-born/infants is available free of charge in Saudi Arabia. Contact your local neighbourhood clinic for immunization distribution.

 Good to know:

Pharmacies are available nationwide and are easily accessible. Most hospitals/clinics will have a corresponding pharmacy onsite. Commercial pharmacies are vast and easily found in the city, most of them providing 24hr/7 days week service.

Find healthcare

Your medical insurance provider will provide you with a list of health institutions where your insurance is accepted. There are hundreds of clinics in the city; a good way to navigate the possibilities is by asking around. A recommendation from co-workers, seasoned expats, and neighbours is a good way to find the closest health facility nearby.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Health

Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Popular Medical Insurance Companies in the Region:

Bupa Medical Insurance
MEDGULF Medical Insurance
TAWUNIYA Insurance Company

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.