MOH Says That Free Healthcare For All Is No Longer Possible
Category: Kuwait

According to the Ministry of Health, the decision to reserve government hospitals solely for citizens will be postponed until the primary and secondary healthcare facilities for foreign nationals under the Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) scheme are finished, hopefully by the end of the year (MoH).

The first Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) in Kuwait will be run and managed by Dhaman, the largest Public-Private Partnership (PPP) healthcare enterprise in the Middle East (HMO). The HMO intends to offer its services to the almost 3.2 million expatriates and their dependents through 15 primary healthcare facilities situated in locations with a high expatriate population and three new secondary healthcare institutions with a combined capacity of 900 beds.

It was decided to create the Dhaman project since the government could no longer afford to continue offering free healthcare to everyone in Kuwait. The government of Kuwait understandably chose to follow the PPP route and privatize healthcare for expatriates when faced with the choice of offering decent healthcare to citizens or incurring expensive costs to give quality healthcare to everyone in Kuwait.

By excluding the humanitarian and egalitarian features and examining the Dhaman project only from an economic angle, it becomes clear that both the state and the private healthcare industry stand to gain from it. The state will gain since the health ministry won't have to find money or facilities to serve the sizable expatriate population and can instead give nationals access to top-notch medical treatment. The Dhaman initiative provides a practical, affordable option that nevertheless gives an appropriate level of healthcare coverage for private sector companies and expatriate workers, particularly those who cannot afford the pricey private healthcare facilities available in the nation.

51 percent of the expatriate labour in Kuwait, as reported by a number of population statistics sources, is only literate in reading and writing; that is, they lack any formal education. Here is divided into 470,000 workers, or 64% of the overall domestic sector workforce, and 722,000 workers, or 47% of the total private sector workforce. According to records, there are also 1,683 illiterate government employees and a total of 44,000 illiterate private sector employees who are unable to read or write. There are also 39,000 illiterate domestic employees. Around 1.3 million foreigners living there together lack academic credentials or are illiterate.

Even if we only include the roughly 1.5 million non-Kuwaiti employees who work in the private sector and omit domestic and government employees, we discover that 1.2 million of these employees only have a basic education, but they account for close to 82 percent of all Kuwaiti residents.

The government had to decide between using available facilities to provide high-quality healthcare exclusively to citizens at exorbitant costs to the state and continuing to provide high-quality healthcare services to everyone in Kuwait at exorbitant costs to the state. The government chose the latter option while also providing adequate healthcare facilities for expatriates in the form of the Dhaman project.

Critics of this strategy may point out that there is no distinction in treatment between citizens and expatriates in many industrialised nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and others. However, supporters of Dhaman claim that what opponents of the idea frequently forget to point out is that in the majority of industrialized nations, each and every citizen—and, in turn, each and every foreign visitor—pays taxes to the government. There are no corresponding taxes imposed on foreign nationals in Kuwait.

Furthermore, compared to nationals, expatriates make up a relatively small portion of the population in most developed nations. In contrast, approximately 70% of Kuwait's population is made up of expatriates, hence from an economic standpoint; it is incorrect to compare Kuwait with some developed nations.  They continue by saying that the only way to resolve this issue on a human scale is to ensure that low-income immigrants have access to healthcare that is comparable to or slightly above what they would receive at home, while making sure that employers cover the costs of appropriate healthcare for those with higher incomes given that they benefit from their experience and knowledge.

07 Aug, 2022 1321


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