Between public and private, costs and coverage, health insurance in Qatar can be confusing, but we’ll walk you through the ins and outs.
As an expat considering a move to Qatar, you’ve probably got a lot of questions, concerns, and worries. The good news is that, once you’ve done your homework, making sure your health insurance situation is settled can be straightforward enough. This guide will explain private and public medical insurance in Qatar, as well as offer insurer recommendations. It includes the following sections:
- The healthcare system and health insurance in Qatar
- Who needs health insurance in Qatar?
- Public health insurance in Qatar
- Private health insurance in Qatar
- Health insurance costs and reimbursement
- Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
Globality Health is an expat-friendly international health insurance provider. They tailor their range of expert premiums to the needs of you and your family, including eye care, dentistry, family doctors, and more. So, see your health care options more clearly with Globality Health.
COVID-19 in Qatar
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
For general Qatari coronavirus health information in English, including vaccination schedules and the latest government restrictions, see our article on COVID-19 in Qatar, or visit the Ministry of Health’s official COVID-19 website.
The healthcare system and health insurance in Qatar
In the past few decades, Qatar has invested significantly in its medical infrastructure, making its healthcare system one of the best in the Middle East. From cutting-edge technologies to hospitals specializing in women’s healthcare, there are plenty of options.
Within the realm of health insurance, public and private options exist side-by-side. Government-funded public facilities are available to expats, who must pay the required fees.
Private health insurance and facilities abound in Qatar, often with shorter wait times but higher payments. In general, throughout Qatar, insurance costs, coverage, and access vary greatly.
Who needs health insurance in Qatar?
Even though health insurance is not compulsory in Qatar, most people have either public or private insurance. Public health insurance is essentially for Qataris and is often subsidized for residents. However, some people prefer to take out additional private insurance (if their employer doesn’t provide it). Private hospitals and clinics comprise more than half of the healthcare providers in Qatar and often offer less bureaucracy, shorter lines, and more English-speaking staff.
What happens if I am not covered by health insurance?
Because health insurance isn’t mandatory, there are no penalties for not having it. However, accessing medical care without insurance is, of course, more expensive; therefore, arguably, your penalty is an overall higher cost of accessing care.
Public health insurance in Qatar
Who does public health insurance cover?
Public health insurance in Qatar is managed by the Hamad Medical Corporation. It is free for Qatari citizens and offers comprehensive medical care. Expats can access public hospitals and clinics but must pay the required fees. As an expat, once you receive your residency, you can apply for a Hamad Health Card, which will give you access to lower fees in public facilities. This costs QR100 and, even though you still need to pay fees in public hospitals, the discounts offered through this Health Card are significant. Therefore, we recommend you get one as soon as you can.
How to get a Health Card
To apply for your Health Card, simply go to your local Post Office or Primary Health Care Center with the required documents. Once everything is in order, your Health Card should be ready within a few weeks. Here is what you will need:
- Passport (and copy)
- Qatar ID (and copy)
- Two passport-sized photos
- Proof of address (like a recent utility bill)
- Birth certificate(s) (if you’re applying for your kids)
- Vaccination records (if you’re applying for your kids)
- Sponsor’s ID (if you are domestic staff)
Private health insurance in Qatar
Who should get private health insurance?
As an expat, private health insurance is a good idea. More than half of the medical facilities in the country are private so, even if you prefer to use public ones, it is important to have the option of turning to private hospitals and clinics, if need be. In any case, you will be paying at least nominal fees to use public hospitals and clinics, therefore you might as well give yourself choices.
The advantages of private health insurance coverage
Private hospitals and clinics form the majority of facilities in the country and are often faster to navigate and less bureaucratic. Private insurance sometimes also provides coverage while you’re traveling to other countries; or to your home country – a convenience that’s hard to overstate. Because private hospitals and clinics are used to dealing with expats, accessing care is often a smoother process. Furthermore, because private hospitals and clinics are usually staffed by expats, English is often used as a lingua franca. This is helpful when trying to explain what hurts and where.
How does private health insurance work?
The structure and cost of your private health insurance will vary by the insurance package and the hospitals and clinics. Some insurers will bill you once in a lump sum, while some will spread out the fees.
Similarly, some hospitals will ask you to pay any fees upfront while some will bill your insurance and you pay them afterward. However, some may not have any fees if you have certain insurance. Therefore, make sure to do your homework and ask questions about coverage, co-payments, and access throughout the country.
How to choose a health insurance provider
The good news is that many jobs offer private health insurance as part of their compensation packages. If you can, get your employer to take this expense off your shoulders. Keep in mind that companies usually have a relationship with one insurance company, which can feel limiting.
Once you receive your package options, go through them thoroughly. Do they cover maternity expenses? What about prescriptions and tests? Which hospitals do you have access to and are there fees you’re expected to pay? Keep the answers to these questions in mind while settling on a policy.
Thankfully, if your employer won’t cover private health insurance, or if you find their policies insufficient for your needs, you can always purchase additional, top-up insurance.
Private health insurance companies in Qatar
For help navigating the private health insurance companies in Qatar, take a look at our list of recommended providers:
Health insurance costs and reimbursements
Health insurance costs vary. If you plan to mainly use public facilities, your Health Card is your friend. This will give you access to heavily subsidized appointments, treatments, and prescriptions; although the costs will vary by facility. The cost of private health insurance depends on whether it is employer-provided, whether you have your own, or additional, insurance, and what the terms of your particular policy are. Be sure to do this research and understand your rights and responsibilities as a patient.
Health insurance for unemployed or low earners
Expats’ residency in Qatar is directly tied to their job; if you, or the partner whose visas you’re on, lose employment, you also lose the right to stay in Qatar and have healthcare. Domestic staff get a discount on the Health Card at QR50, which provides access to subsidized treatment in public facilities.