Saudi Arabia: Options in Medicine

In Saudi Arabia one may or may not have several choices when it comes to receiving medical care. If one is a Saudi national there is probably a 50 per cent chance that health insurance is part of ones employment benefits. New regulation has recently passed that citizens working in the private sector must be provided health care coverage through their employer but for most in the public (governmental sector) they remain uncovered unless they have chosen to take out private health insurance coverage. Regulation is also being discussed but not yet passed for domestic employees such as housemaids and drivers to receive health care coverage. If a family driver or housemaid falls ill it depends on the good character of the family to see that he or she receives care.


For those who have health care coverage their options for medical care are likely more broad. They can choose to go to a private hospital or in other cases receive care through government or university hospitals through the respective business centers of these institutions. Those who do not have health care coverage and are Saudi citizens can go to Ministry of Health hospitals as well as to some government and university hospitals. In the case of government or university hospitals the Saudi citizen will likely have to be “accepted” by a practicing consultant for care and treatment. However once accepted, all care and treatment is free of charge.


And of course for those financially able to self-pay, it is usually not a problem to receive care and treatment at a facility of ones choosing. Exceptions to this can be hospitals such as King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Security Forces, Military Hospital which typically do not treat non-Saudis unless one is employed by these institutions.


Overall the Saudi doctors are very good and professional. I certainly have no qualms or hesitation in being seen and treated by any Saudi physician to date. Follow up care in an institution is also important and that care may not be administered by a doctor but rather by nurses and other technicians and specialists. In some cases there can be quality control issues so this is one area where one should be watchful. Do not be hesitant or shy to ask questions about procedures requested. Know what is involved, what is the process, what is expected afterward.



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