To register, you must take your passport and visa to the Ministry of Health. Private treatment is readily available in the country, but expensive, so foreign residents should have medical insurance.
There’s a large number of international companies specialising in private health insurance in Qatar and elsewhere. Comprehensive health insurance costs from around $50 ($35) per month for regional coverage. However, price shouldn’t be your only consideration when comparing policies, and you should also consider the benefits of different policies.
As with all insurance, when taking out a health insurance policy do some homework and check the small print, particularly regarding what is and isn’t covered.
All policies include limitations and restrictions; for example,
‘pre-existing’ medical conditions are unlikely to be covered, certain occupations are often excluded or attract surcharges, and high-risk sports aren’t usually covered, although the definition of ‘high risk’
does vary from one insurer to another. Many companies also limit costs for a particular treatment within a calendar year, in addition to having an overall annual limit for all treatment. Be suspicious of
policies that restrict the number of days that you’re allowed to spend in hospital.
There might be an upper age limit on acceptance for a scheme and, if you’re offered a private health policy that terminates at retirement, it would be wise to avoid it; if you’re forced to obtain a new policy at the age limit, it will be very difficult to find one at a reasonable premium – perhaps at all. Note that some companies terminate your policy at the end of the stipulated period if they believe that the costs they’ve incurred have become too high. If you’re purchasing an international policy, note also that some policies exclude cover in the USA, owing to high medical charges there. You can often pay to have different areas or types of cover added, but it might be expensive to do so.
Bear in mind that insurance companies can be very particular about their claim forms and are strict about them being filled out fully by the relevant doctor or dentist. Many medical professionals understandably find this tedious, but you must insist that it’s done to order.
Full dental insurance can be very expensive and if, you want extensive cover, you must purchase a ‘gold standard’ health plan. Emergency fillings and extractions are normally included in standard health plans, but when it comes to more specialised treatment involving crowns, bridges and other prosthetics, the costs escalate substantially. Even ‘gold standard’ policies have exclusions, sometimes with regard to the content of fillings, the number of visits to a dentist and the volume of work carried out in any year. Policyholders also need to check that cover includes x-rays and simple cleaning. Cosmetic procedures and children’s orthodontics aren’t included in most plans (if they are, the premiums are usually high).
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.