The private health insurance industry has not yet come into its own in Egypt, which means that the majority of Egyptians access care through facilities operated by government ministries or public insurance schemes.
The vast majority of government medical facilities are run by the Ministry of Health. They range from major urban hospitals to rural clinics, and are most readily available sources of care in Egypt. Care at Ministry of Health facilities is free to all Egyptian citizens.
Medical facilities attached to other institutions are supervised by the ministry with overarching responsibility for that institution. For example, university hospitals are administered by the Ministry of Education and military hospitals by the Ministry of Defense.
Non-governmental insurance schemes
Egypt has two main insurance providers that operate under government supervision but with independent administration and financing. They are the Health Insurance Organization (HIO) and Curative Care Organization (CCO).
The HIO covers employed persons, students and widows through premiums deducted from employee salaries and employer payrolls. The HIO operates an entire network of hospitals, and at times will contract with private health care providers in order to fill gaps in its coverage network.
The CCO, on the other hand operates in specific Egyptian governorates (Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Kalyubia, Damietta and Kafr el Sheikh). It contracts with individuals, companies and government agencies for the provision of care and arranges premiums accordingly.
Out of pocket payments
Those Egyptians that can afford it gladly prefer to make out-of-pocket payments for medical services. Indeed, it would not be at all unusual to go into a clinic for an elective procedure (such as lasik eye surgery) with a stack of cash. Such procedures are well within the reach of upper-class Egyptians and most expats (the aforementioned lasik surgery costs about LE4500 depending on the clinic).
If you are moving to Egypt from a European country, the United States or Canada, this practice may unnerve you. If you hate the idea of paying up front for medical services, you may opt for and international insurance provider instead.
International health insurance for Egypt
As an expat, you will almost certainly be limiting your ventures into the Egyptian health care system to upscale private clinics. As such, you would probably do well to invest in international health insurance. International providers offer a variety of plans geared toward expats – these range from comprehensive packages to catastrophic emergency insurance only, with prices varying accordingly. Insurance packages can be purchased specifically for the length of your stay in Egypt, and they can even be renewed if you decide to extend your stay.