Plans to roll out a nationwide health insurance scheme that was scheduled to cover Qatar’s expat population by the middle of this year have been delayed until at least the end of 2016, a senior official has said.
The insurance program Seha (“health”) launched in August 2013 and was being implemented in phases. Initially open to Qatari girls and women over the age of 12 years old, it was extended to cover healthcare for all Qataris last April.
According to the original timeline, Seha was supposed to have been extended to cover white-collar and then blue-collar expats by the middle of this year.
However, plans have now been postponed for at least 18 months to allow the National Health Insurance Company (NHIC) to try to tackle some of the many problems the implementation of the scheme has raised, including overcrowding at private hospitals.
The new program was introduced under Law No. 7 of 2013 on the Social Health Insurance Scheme.
Previously, Qataris received free healthcare only in a limited number of state-run hospitals and local clinics. But now, more than 190 privately-run hospitals, clinics, health centers, opticians and other services accept Seha insurance.
As thousands more people opt to visit these facilities instead of the public ones, many clinics have been straining to meet demand, prompting patients to complain of long waiting times to see a doctor.
Qataris can use any of the participating services, with their treatment paid for by the state.
Meanwhile, all expats will eventually be required by law to have their medical insurance paid for by their companies, although currently this is optional. As a result, many expats do not have health insurance and rely on the government-funded hospitals and clinics for treatment.
This combined with Qatar’s rapidly expanding population is also putting a strain on services. The country has the GCC’s fastest-growing healthcare sector, according to one report published last year.
In the 18 months since Seha was first launched, it has dealt with more than 1 million visits from patients, NHIC acting CEO Dr. Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali said, according to the Qatar Tribune.
With an estimated Qatari population of around 300,000, this equates to more than three visits per national.
Complaints started to soar as the system was extended last April to cover all Qataris, and Ali admitted that some providers had been “overwhelmed” by demand.
At the time, he told Doha News:
“We told them from the beginning that our base of customers is going to be the entire nation. So I think they didn’t actually do their homework properly and they were not ready to actually realize how much pressure is going to be there in the system.”
One of the main reasons for the long waits appears to be the reliance by many clinics and surgeries on providing treatment on a drop-in basis, rather than by appointment.
Commenting on the latest delay, Ali is quoted by the Qatar Tribune as saying:
“I feel that these providers can manage it better. What they are doing is they are operating it as a walk-in clinic. They system of getting prior appointment will be better.
They have to learn how to deal with these cases. We can give them advice but we cannot control the system.”
However, expanding the program to cover the entire population would be a significant step, and before it is done a number of changes need to be made, Ali admitted yesterday.
The reforms include improving the electronic system used by providers and training staff. He also said that the kind of services to be provided to expats and their families has still to be decided, while the means by which employers will pay for the services has also not been finalized.
To help cope with demand, the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) and Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) are leading plans to expand the number of healthcare facilities in the country.
Three new hospitals, including a women’s hospital and surgical hospital, are under construction in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, with a completion deadline of the end of this year.
However, the new women’s hospital appears to have a much smaller capacity than the existing facility.
Other HMC and private hospitals are expected to pick up the shortfall, including Sidra Medical and Research Center, which has faced years of delays.
Additionally, an HMC communicable diseases hospital is also under construction and is set to open this year, and three hospitals dedicated to male laborers – in Mesaieed, Ras Laffan and Doha’s industrial area – are also planned for this year.
It is hoped that directing workers to these facilities will ease some of the pressure on HMC’s emergency departments, which are regularly used by low-income workers who do not have private medical insurance and cannot afford to attend private clinics for basic treatment.
I guess they need a bit more mulling…Thoughts?
I’m so surprised!!!!!
Why would Qatar even pay for the expats! I dont really get it! totally not the government’s proplem! Their companies and health insurances from their companies should be resposible! I doubt any country in the world provide all medical care for expacts for free!!! Cant they just move back to their countries already? God knows how annoying it is having them here and working with them on a daily basis. ugh whatever!
I don’t know about this Seha (“health”) launched in August 2013, what I know though is that in the last year and half even if you are covered by your private insurance to go to public health system it means waiting for months!
With such a small population this is a problem. And what if it is something that it is not an emergency, but you need still to be looked after without waiting months? The answer I have heard the most in hospitals is that medical appointment is given you by the “system”.
The system in place does not work!
PS. I know different European countries that give you medical care if you’re resident in those countries at minimum expenses, because it is public health. Of course you need to be resident.
but thats not just to you! im a Qatari and a waited two months for a dentist appointment!
Take it up with your government buddy, it is their decision to take the country on the path it is on. Don’t whine about the expats, they are not the source of the problem. The decisions made by your government are.
I dont have to take anything with anyone! my country is generious and I love that about it! but doesnt mean all people deserve that generiousity!
Not your choice who receives it or doesn’t bud.
Then stop talking crap about our country cause it aint your concern too!
Nobody is talking crap about your country. Most expats are actually respectful, but they have the right to point out what is wrong and criticize it 🙂
Well maybe they should say it in more respected way! how do you think we feel when we read these ugly sh*tty articles by EXPACTS and they think they know everything about the country and what should happen! Dude it isnt your place AT ALL! go fix the problems of your country and when i say YOU im not talking about you but rather the people dissing Qatar
Again, what have you done to deserve the respect of any commenter on here?
and who said I NEED your respect! lol dude go find someone else who would even cares to know your name!
Yet you seem to have a need to be respected…Interesting. I am interested in what that says about your sense of self-esteem. Above you say people should speak in a more respectful way, and they you say you don’t need respect. Very…confusing.
Man there is some rubbish in this feed. Moderators!
Probably the same way I feel when I hear foreigners talking smack about country. And, what is your point?
I think that you have not yet learned the Golden Rule of comment boards. No one cares how you feel.
I have not spoken and ‘crap’ about the country. I have simply pointed out that 1. you are in no way a decision maker, 2. your unhappiness with the demography of Qatar is the result of decisions made by Qataris, not expats and that you should speak to your superiors with your concerns. As for, “it ain’t your concern’ – that is a is mistaken belief. Anything that impacts the health and well-being of any legal resident is their concern.
you waited two months because of idiots taking dentist appointments for the whole family of 15 who have never been to a dentist all there life. I see families wanting to do check ups for everything ever since seha became free for locals.
And they have every right to do so! our country is doing the best it can to provide the best life there is for us Qataris, and we are so proud of that.
Exactly the opposite for expats. Pay more to get less…
then maybe you should start eating healthy and living a healthy life style like normal people. you do not represent the qatari people and what you are saying and how you are saying it is very embarrassing and shameful. You are not superior to others. Infact your people are very kind, and you should be ashamed to be a local.
His type, sadly, seems to be becoming more and more common, isn’t it? In general, I so much prefer the 40 plus locals to the young ones. Anyone else feel that way?
Act like spoiled brats. Oh, that’s right, they are.
thats such a compliment coming from a person who probably jealous since people are rich in here! LOL
there are hard working and lazy people everywhere. the percentage of hard working locals might be very little because the rest believe they are entitled to everything. end of the day ones value and self worth is shown thru striving to always want to work harder and give back to his community. Both the young and old generation both have there good and bad. It all depends on how you were raised. Whether you were taught that all humans are equal and should be treated with kindness and/or dignity. When you have generations being raised by housemades up until they are 13 or 14 and never sit with there parents, who is to blame?
who the h*ll are you to “analyze” the locals as you call us! and you know what, you damn right, we are entitled for anything when its in OUR country!
I think that you’ll find that both respect and admiration are not not something that you are entitled to. Locals? Do you see that as derogatory? Why?
Well, nobody knows the future. Don’t tell me I did not warn you.
LOL yeah probably you wont cause we can speak loud and clear and we have been living with people like you longet than the older generations. and we feel the same way to you too darling
Darling? What is this, Black Adder?
actually I do represent them and I dont care how someone like you view me cause you are nothing to me. and if our country is so bad and the people arent even good, I guess you know your way to the airport!
i’ll get back to you once you get the sand out of your private parts and have something intelligent to say. good day
LOL of course! what would a disgusting person say except dirty crap? yes yes yes walk away dude
oh and since all humans are equal, I dont see your countries treat us well when we travel! but sadly here were treat you so well to the point where were realized that you arent worthy of that!
When you travel you are merely a tourist, not a resident. You would be treated no differently than any other tourist. Why would you expect otherwise?
are you saying tourist or terrorist? cause im sure u mean the second one! isnt that how all yall view us! or maybe just your governments
Well, the overwhelming majority of terrorists are Muslim and have been since the death of the LTTE, and most are Arab/South Asian, as are their victims. I understand that has led to unpleasantries during travel. If I could change it I would. However, the equation is Terrorist most probably equals=Muslim/Arab, but the reverse does not hold true. Muslim/Arab does not probably = terrorist. Most people understand this.
Well, this was a fun thread. Take it somewhere else, guys!
Personal attacks. Irrelevant comments. Take your pick.
I’ll grant the personal attacks. My apologies. I believe you to be mistaken on the irrelevant comments. Please give an example of what you see as irrelevant and why.
Don’t worry, she’s very arbitrary. A_Qtr told me to have relations with myself, in other terms, and she sent a funny emoticon in response. I on the other hand get threatened with banishment for benign comments
Yeah, what has happened to make her become the random and capricious deleting overlord? Any ideas?
You are on form these days Shabina. Even a bit of wittyness in the reply. I like it.
So, in one comment you are saying that people are equal, and then in the next you say that a group of people are nothing to you? Which is it?
Who do you mean by “you”? What do you mean by “normal people”?
Are you proud of the fact that to achieve the best to provide for Qatari’s that human rights abuses and exploitation of people is considered the way to get there?
LOL. The irony of this statement…
Yep, then imagine what it is like for everyone else seeking non-emergency treatment who watch Qataris jump the queue all day long. The system is unsustainable.
yes I know! It is for all.
I am more concerned about this, than the expat health program, because as you said expats should get their private insurance, fair enough! And my answer to you was to let you know that yes there are countries where national health programs are applied to expats if residents
All of the countries that I have worked in except the US are like that, and the US is such an exception that it doesn’t count.
Loll this is hilarious! Wait now for all the angry/sarcastic/funny comments from expats. You brought it to yourself 😛
Whats hilarious is the fact that you I care! pffftttt thats the truth thats the truth and Qatar government is WAAAAAY too generious to ppl who are doing nothing to our country. Note that im not talking about workers! Im talking about big high managements who are hear to steal as much money as they can and run off to their country, and YES this happened ALOT!
Well at least the expats DO something to earn that money. Where are you NOT doing anything today?
LOL oh so now we are not working too? well sweetie since ur such a hard worker go work in ur country and maybe they will have money to feed their nation.
Sweetie??? Sexist much? You’ve told me all that I need to know about you as a person with that one little word.
Sexist? its funny when im actually a female! and i never said u need to know about me cause “sweetie” I dont care how u view me! bye now
You seem to have misunderstood. You speak so much of respect, then you use such demeaning language to others. Pot, meet the kettle.
I don’t understand what you’re getting at here.
Last that I checked, women can be sexist too. Your gender has nothing to do with it.
I am so tired seeing such comments from people who know nothing about business dynamics. Smell the coffee, mate. These guys DO something to be here. Well, for you there seems to be no choice except Karak and waiting for your government to wake up.
Please volunteer to shut off the lights, once everyone is gone.
OK. Are you telling me that Qatar can build the rail system for example without hiring expats and paying them fat salaries? And that is only one example. There is also stadiums (or stadia), highways, hospitals and other buildings of all types, etc. If you think so then you are probably living in another planet 🙂
Well, they are way too generous to some groups, I’ll agree with you there.
The reason some managers n businesses make huge profits is because loopholes in rules allow it .they do so by exploiting expat workers also. Am sure some of these managers split the spoils!
Why blame the people who accept the salary packages which are, in your view, “WAAAAY” too generous? Shouldn’t your anger and frustration be directed at whoever is approving those salary packages?
If someone offered me a 75,000Qar/month salary in a government department as a “consultant” I would accept it, but don’t blame me for being greedy. Blame the HR manager who approved it.
Umm, my country of origin pays for all non-tourist visa holders to access the national health care system – just like pretty much every country on the planet except the Americans.
I guess it just shows how much the government wants and needs the expats to stay in the country.
Well, it will soon be the problem of private companies – will that make you happier?
Expats are here because 1) you are not even capable to do the expat’s work OR 2) you are not willing to do it.
Or they are unemployable back home and have fellow bums who made it here and offer them jobs to come.
Yes typical view of the Master Arab Slave trader, fool.
The truth hurts doesn’t it? Lol.
Yes , Australia does. Most democratic developed countries do provide health care for residents regardless of citizenship status.
If these private clinics can just get it together and do things by appointment, things would be so much better. AND, make appointments by phone. Not this silly nonsense of you go to the clinic, make the appointment and leave and come back.
i dont know what you are talking about buddy. hospitals like ahli take 3 seconds to call them up and book an appointment on the phone. I even doing it sometimes while walking out of the hospital to save time.
In his defence, a lot depends on the who you get for a receptionist. A lot of places hang up, lose you in transfers, etc.
correct. that has happened to me a few times. in general though i cannot complain
I don’t consider Al Ahli a private clinic. It’s a hospital. Try making an appointment at Future Clinic. You can’t. For pediatrics, you have to go there, make the appointment, then come back at the time of the appointment. I am trying to make an appointment for Neurology at Hamad. If I call, my appointment is 6 months away. If I show up to the desk at Hamad, I can get in next week. (The exact words told to me by the woman on the phone.) I have been trying for 2 weeks to get an appointment at Rumailah. They can only call me. So I constantly miss their calls because I am working and can’t always pick up the phone. I call them back and I get the same response- someone will call me back within 3 days. This has been going on for 2 weeks now.
That really sucks. i know how frustrating it can get sometimes with appointments. i got use to booking a month in advance. i have never really checked private clinics or polyclinics to be honest. Anyway i hope you get your appointment and not have your time wasted. getting stuck in traffic here for something that can be done over the phone really shortens your life span.
Thanks, The I finally ended up finding a clinic that does appointments and it works brilliantly. The doctors at Hamad are great, I only wish the appointment system was as good as the docs.
Al Ahli has an appointment system where you can call but they are overcrowed since seha started. I use to be able to get an appointment with no problem. Now some departments will not not give you an appointment and that that they will call you when a spot opens up. Which leads to a 6-8 weeks wait to see a doctor.
Sometimes I have to go to the emergency room just to see a doctor.
Fully agree! Doha clinic has same inefficient way of asking patients to come physically and not give appointment on phone. This eventually results in people queuing up to take appointment, leave and return, still wait an hour or more to see doctor. All this can be instantly improved but despite suggestions, no one hears. ..DK
Wouldn’t it make more sense to start with the people that need it the most, the blue collar workers. Most white collar workers already have coverage anyway and are working in much less hazardous conditions. Logic first.
It is possible that they want to keep blue collars to the last stage until a special hospital for them is ready. I do not think the government wants them to mix locals and expats in the same institutions.
Hmmm, locals and expats are also in the same institutions…except for the few Hamad clinics that they kicked the expats out of and are now like ghost towns.
There is a health centre in Nejma for bachelors only, and you can clearly see that 99% percent of the patients are blue collar workers with some poor Egyptians, Sudanese and other nationalities. Those are the category not entitled to bring their families because of their very low salaries.
A special hospital that is separate–but equal! South African and the U.S. have already tried this.
Lol. I don’t know I might be wrong. Anyway let’s hope this health thing is sorted out for the best of people living here.
Well the comments on this thread were fun…..
My understanding is the government will forced the companies to pay once the insurance scheme is up and running but it makes sense to delay it, it’s an ambitious program and the timeline was absurb.
Don’t know what the below fight is all about, but I love the SEHA program. I think its the only one in the world like it. And for a reasonable fee it should also be extended to expats whose employers do not provide them any form of medical insurance.
I understand the delay as there are now strains on the private sector and results phase II of the program still needs to be fully examined …
Good job Seha
some of my comments were deleted, dunno why. However, some were left without the OP question being there any more. Please remove all my comments…since they do not make sense now. I am very sensitive..haha
Although a good intention, I don’t see it working. Zero deductibles too!!! Here people sneeze and run to the doctor if it is free!!! My co’s claim ratio has 3 individuals going on avg twice a week to the doctor!!!!
Ahli hospital now has longer appointment times after Seha was introduced – do not want the entire pop clogging the system.
Since the companies would bear the insurance cost, with the fear of hyperinflation over the next 3 years (labour being a scarce category with expo 2020, other regional projects), I do not see this being implemented. HMC would have to increase capacity.
Better to wait and get it right than to introduce a disaster now.
It’s ok. Expats affairs doesn’t deserve any urgency. Isn’t it obvious in Qatar?
On the same note, there are those dreaming of a change in the labor laws… keep dreaming.
The latest I’ve heard now is that the qatari businessmen council does not want to discuss any of these suggested reforms. Discussions have been pushed to end of this year.
Have a nice weekend everyone !