Kuwait is to make health insurance mandatory for expats over the age of 60, according to local media reports. The move comes as the country’s government is set to drop a controversial ban on renewing work permits for expatriates in their 60s. Last month, the Kuwaiti Legal Advice and Legislation Department voided the ban on employing expats above 60 who do not have a university degree, saying it had no legal grounding. The Department went on to add that the ban had been issued by the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) director-general without authorisation. Al Rai newspaper reports that a plan is likely to be approved making health insurance compulsory for all expats over 60 regardless of their qualifications, with the intention of reducing financial pressures on the country’s medical facilities.
Kuwaiti Minister of Trade and Industry Abdullah Al Salman has requested that an advisor from the Legal Advice and Legislation Department attends an upcoming meeting of the PAM board that is likely to officially rubber stamp to drop the ban, the sources said. The PAM will issue a new decree to mandate renewal of work permits for expats over 60 in return for paying the normal fees plus insurance health documents issued by domestic insurance companies. “Around 4,013 such expatriates have been forced out of the work market in Kuwait in the first six months of enforcing the decision, Al Qabas newspaper reported recently. The ban, which went into effect earlier this year, triggered an outcry among rights activists, who argued that it affects thousands of expatriates and their families who long lived in Kuwait,” reports The Gulf News. Opponents also argued that the move has been detrimental to many businesses and rocked the labour market, robbing it of experienced workers.
Expat insurance in Qatar
The news coming out of Kuwait follows similar announcements made in Qatar two weeks ago when it was confirmed that from April 2022 there will be a mandatory health insurance system will be implemented for all expatriates and visitors to the country. This is to provide basic health care services to them through health care providers in several government health facilities and the private sector, according to the insurance coverage for them. Khalid al-Mughesib, adviser to the Minister of Public Health, told Qatar TV on Wednesday that the health insurance would be mandatory for all the categories of expats, including visitors to the country. “All expatriates will have to get the basic health insurance that will be launched after six months. This would be through their employers and the expatriate person should get health insurance for his family members residing in the country. He added: “It is a basic health insurance for all and there will be practical mechanism and regulations for implementing this.”