Qatar Healthcare for Expats
The Qatar healthcare system is reputedly one of the very best in the Middle East.
That said, the costs of healthcare can vary considerably. Some expats will have access to the national health insurance system which provides subsidized healthcare.
In cases where this subsidized healthcare is not available, however, healthcare can be very expensive.
Before visiting Qatar it is therefore critical to understand how the Qatar healthcare system works, and whether health insurance will be necessary for you, in order to obtain the most effective care while in the country.
Primary Health Care in Qatar
Healthcare in Qatar is primarily controlled by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH).
Front-line medical services such as hospitals and polyclinics are provided by the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), a non-profit government-run organization.
HMC also administers the Health Card system, which facilitates access to subsidized care in its hospitals.
Possession of a health card will significantly reduce the costs of medical care in Qatar, though as in many other countries additional co-payments will normally be required when receiving care.
Visitors to Qatar should therefore aim to register for a Health Card as soon as possible after arrival.
Qatar Health Cards
In principle there are two primary ways to obtain a Health Card in Qatar:
- At any HMS clinic
- At the local Post Office
The application procedure is reasonably simple. You will need to complete a form and provide the following supplementary documents:
- Residence visa
- Passport-sized photos
In addition, if applying for a card on behalf of your children you will need to provide:
- Birth certificate
- Vaccination records
You will also be expected to pay a fee for the card itself. At present the fee is set at QR100, which amounts to around £20 depending on currency exchange rates.
Most visitors agree that this is a very small price to pay for the potential savings to be had.
Health Cards typically take between two and four weeks to arrive after application, so the sooner you apply on the entry the sooner you can begin benefiting.
The cards are designed to last the same period as your visa, though both can be renewed at expiry.
Public Hospitals in Qatar
There are a number of high quality public hospitals in and around Doha.
Visitors and expats can still receive medical care even without a Health Card, though you will of course not benefit from the subsidized treatment.
The main public hospitals in Qatar are:
Hospital Name Address Tel No. Women's Hospital Hamad Medical City, Doha, Qatar +974 439 6666 Rumailah Hospital Al Khaleej St., Al Khaleej St, Doha, Qatar +974 439 6666 Al Amal Oncology Hospital Doha, Qatar +974 474 5555 Children's Emergency Centre +974 439 2948 Hamad General Hospital Hamad Medical City, Doha, Qatar +974 4394444 Al Khor General Hospital +974 474 5555
Private Hospitals in Qatar
It has been estimated that roughly two thirds of the hospitals in Qatar are privately-run.
These hospitals are still expected to meet the same exacting standards applied to public hospitals but due to the fees payable the waiting lists are usually shorter.
In addition there tends to be a far higher prevalence of English-speaking doctors working in such hospitals, many of whom are expats themselves.
Note that a Qatari Health Card does not cover treatment in such hospitals so health insurance should be considered essential to cover treatment fees.
The main private hospitals in Qatar are:
Hospital Name Address Tel No. Al Ahli Hospital P.O.Box 6401, Ahmed Bin Ali St, Doha, Qatar +974 4489 8888 Al Emadi Hospital Al Hilal West, P.O. 5804, Doha, Qatar., Qatar +974 4466 6009 American Hospital P.O.Box : 22314, Doha, Qatar +974 4442 1999 Doha Clinic Hospital Al Mirqab Al Jadeed, Doha, Qatar +974 4438 4333
Vaccinations for Qatar
The British National Health Service (NHS) recommends the following vaccinations for visits to Qatar:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Here at Expatriate Healthcare we would encourage you to seek professional medical advice before your visit to ensure the most timely vaccination advice.
Qatar Health Insurance
As mentioned, while a Health Card offers subsidized care, patients will still need to make supplementary payments.
Furthermore, not all types of care and medication are covered by the system.
As a result, despite registering for a Health Card many Qataris still find themselves paying for certain medical care.
In light of this Qatar has recently made health insurance compulsory for native Qataris. This has helped to ease the financial burden on the Qatari population and so provides better care.
As yet, this health insurance is not compulsory for expats, though there are rumblings that this policy could be introduced very shortly.
At this point it is likely that many expats will source this insurance through their employer.
Right now it is strongly advised that travellers and expats invest in appropriate health insurance before entering the country to ensure appropriate levels of financial aid in times of need.
For a no-obligation health insurance quote from Expatriate Healthcare please click here.