Learn About the Healthcare System & Insurance Options for Expats in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a developed nation in the field of healthcare. Recently, the country has witnessed a boom in its population and coped with the rising demands of adequate healthcare facilities to cater to natives and foreign nationals. Healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia are at par with those of Western Europe and the USA. Healthcare infrastructure and medical facilities are located around Riyadh and other urban areas in particular. Doctors and nurses in such areas often turn out to be expats themselves.
Consequently, many doctors can speak English fluently. If you are thinking of relocating to and working in Saudi Arabia, you can buy comprehensive international health insurance and safeguard your health in a foreign country. The CDC has additional information on types of vaccinations you need to get prior departure.
Overview of Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
The country boasts of over 400 public and 200 private hospitals. Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is divided into two systems – the government-funded and the private pay-per-use. While the government-funded branch of healthcare caters to Saudi nationals only, the private pay-per-use serves foreign individuals as well. The government provides comprehensive healthcare services to its citizens that include access to hospitals, clinics, outpatient programs, dentistry, rehabilitation centers, and pharmacies. Saudi citizens have access to free medical services. The private healthcare division offers various facilities and services for foreign nationals. It includes access to international hospitals, dentistry, specialized clinics, and rehab therapy centers. But one has to pay first before receiving care.
How the Saudi Arabian Healthcare System Works for Expats?
The well-established healthcare system of Saudi Arabia is available for access to expats. All hospitals in the cities and rural areas of the country have the proper equipment and professional medical staff. Foreign nationals usually get sick due to the abrupt change in the environment. Summers are sweltering and may cause heat stroke or sunburn, dehydration, increase stress levels, and weaken the immune system. Sandstorms and gusty winds can cause respiratory problems. But the government has been investing extensively in the healthcare system. The government also ensures that medical care is available and accessible to its natives and expats alike. Public and private hospitals have high standards of medical care, but affording treatment there comes at a hefty price. Expats, therefore, should ensure that an international health insurance plan covers them.
Public Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
Public hospitals in Riyadh are equipped with highly trained staff. They provide medical treatment that corresponds to the standards of the cure offered in hospitals in Western countries. With the professional team in hospitals speaking Arabic and English, you should be able to explain to the physician your physical distress and buy medication without facing any problems. Public hospitals treat Saudi nationals and expats on a first-come, first-served basis. You need to make an appointment 24 – 72 hours in advance if you want to see a specific doctor. Sometimes, it is better to make a trip to the hospital to schedule an appointment due to a long call wait.
Private Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
Western nations and international organizations fund private hospitals in Saudi Arabia. When it comes to quality, private hospitals provide medical care that goes a couple of notches higher than that provided in a government-funded hospital. Patients can take appointments whenever needed by merely walking into the doctor’s clinic. Private hospitals also have other facilities such as medical evacuation/airlifting and emergency ambulances for medical emergencies. The only flip side is that these hospitals are highly expensive. It is, therefore, advisable that you receive treatment in a private hospital only if you have medical insurance.
Emergency Medical Services in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia was earlier notorious for its lack of emergency medical care facilities. But the country has come a long way since then, and its ambulance services have improved nationwide. The contact for ambulance service is 997. Expats in the country may not find the ambulance services robust in terms of prompt response or on boarding facilities. Alternatively, using a taxi or private vehicle may help them reach a hospital quicker.
Medicines and Pharmacies
Most medicines in the country do not need a prescription. The government highly subsidizes medications making it easily accessible for nationals and expats.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Saudi Arabia
Digital Nomads moving to Saudi Arabia are advised to buy a comprehensive international health insurance policy before departure. This policy will ensure that global citizens don’t have to worry about any lapse in healthcare assistance and can obtain the best available service. But before purchasing the policy, ensure that it covers overseas medical evacuation during a serious medical emergency.