Access to public healthcare system is becoming more difficult for foreigners
According to Kuwaiti press reports, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health (MoH) assumes that in less than three years it will be possible to deny foreigners access to the public health system, apart from exceptions and individual cases. The government is thus responding to continuing criticism from the Kuwaiti population about congestion in public health care facilities, which is caused by foreigners.
Since autumn 2017, sharp increases in fees have made it considerably more difficult for foreigners – mainly Asian workers and their families – to make use of the state healthcare system. Many public health facilities have set up separate visiting hours for Kuwaitis and foreigners, and some state institutions currently offer their services only to locals.
Foreigners already have to pay for health services in advance. Life-threatening emergencies are exempt from prepayment, and in individual cases fees may be waived. Foreigners also pay an annual basic health fee of 50 Kuwait dinars (KD, approx. US$ 165). It is reported that an increase in the fee has reduced the number of medical visits by foreigners and that some of the necessary treatments are being delayed.
According to Kuwaiti health statistics from 2016, the proportion of foreigners in outpatient treatment in state hospitals was 41%, and 55% in inpatient treatment. In private hospitals, the figure was 28% for outpatient treatment and 21% for inpatient treatment.
No progress made in establishing separate care for foreigners
In addition to the mostly expensive private hospitals, three new hospitals and 15 health centers will provide health services to foreigners in the future. The Kuwait Health Assurance Company (Dhaman, http://www.dhaman.co), founded in 2014, will operate these facilities. The compulsory contribution paid to Dhaman will initially amount to 130 KD (US$ 427) per year. It is still unclear to what extent extra payments will have to be made when services are received.
The three hospitals for foreigners, with 300 beds each, will be built in the districts of Jahra, Farwaniya and Ahmadi, according to plans. Originally, the separate health infrastructure for foreigners was to be completed by 2020. The hospital in Ahmadi has been under construction since 2017. The US$ 265 million contract went to the Metallurgical Corporation of China and the local Khalid Ali Al Kharafi & Brothers Company. Construction is expected to be completed in 2020 so that the hospital can open in 2021. It is not known when the contracts for the other two hospitals will be awarded.
Kuwait: Selected hospital projects
|Project||Investment (in US$ million)||Project status||Responsible|
|Kuwait Armed Forces Hospital||1,700||Study||US Army Corps of Engineers|
|New Sabah Al Ahmad Hospital||1,000||Study||Ministry of Health (MoH)|
|Eight Hospitals Expansion: Al Farwaniya Hospital Expansion||941||Execution||MoH|
|New Pediatric Hospital in Al-Sabah Medical Area||850||Design||Ministry of Public Works|
|Eight Hospitals Expansion: Al-Adan Hospital Expansion||772||Execution||MoH|
|New Maternity Hospital||730||Execution||Ministry of Public Works|
|Eight Hospitals Expansion: Al Sabah Hospital Expansion||636||Execution||MoH|
|Sabah al-Salem University: Medical Campus Hospital||635||Design||Kuwait University|
|Eight Hospitals Expansion: Kuwait Cancer Control Center||570||Execution||MoH|
|New Ibn Sina Hospital||560||Prequalification||MoH|
|Medical City Hospital||350||Design||Public Institution for Social Security|
|Expatriate Hospitals: Hospital in Ahmadi||265||Execution||Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman)|
|Expatriate Hospitals: Hospitals in Jahra and Farwaniya||503||Study||Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman)|
|Sabah Al Ahmad New Physical Therapy Hospital||240||Execution||MoH|
|Al Salam Al Ahmadi Hospital in Mahboula||42||Execution||Al Salam International Hospital|
|X-Ray Center in Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital||16||Design||MoH|
|Jabriya Medical Central||15||Execution||Private Developer|
|Al Rawasy Clinic in Al Asimah||14||Execution||Al Rawasy|
|Nephrology & Kidney Transplant Center||11||Execution||MoH|
|Adan Hospital Casualty Building||11||Execution||MoH|
Source: author’s research
Increasing bed capacities, but actual start of new operations is often undetermined
According to official figures, Kuwait’s hospitals had 8,409 beds at the end of 2016 (2015: 8,340). Of these, MoH facilities accounted for 7,098 beds. Three oil companies (Al Ahmadi, Chevron, and National Petroleum) offered 240 beds and twelve private hospitals with an additional 1,071 beds. The following six MoH hospitals are classified as central regional hospitals (General Hospitals): Al Farwaniya Hospital (2016: 868 beds), Al Adan Hospital (826), Al Jahra Hospital (759), Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital (724), Al Sabah Hospital (441) and Al Amiri Hospital (414).
The twelve other MoH hospitals are specialized clinics: Psychological Medicine Hospital (828 beds), Maternity Hospital (448), Ibn Sina Hospital (355), Al Razi Hospital (438), Chest Diseases Hospital (326), Infectious Disease Hospital (173), Kuwait Cancer Control Center (199), Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital (69), Allergy Center (36), Palliative Care (28), Sabah Al Ahmed Urology Center (74) and Zain Hospital (92).
Bed capacities were significantly expanded in 2017 and 2018. However, it is often unclear when completed hospitals or extensions will actually open, as this can be delayed or occur in phases. At the end of 2018, hospital projects with around 3,700 beds, which were not included in the 2016 statistics, have been completed. However, not all of these new capacities are actually currently available.
Among the completed projects are the Al Ahmadi Hospital of the Kuwait Oil Company (350 beds), the MoH Cardiac Research and Rehabilitation Center (150 beds), the Public Health Department Building (50), the MoH Waleed and Abdul Rahman Intensive Care Centre (70) as well as the expansions of the Al Amiri Hospital (420) and the Infectious Disease Hospital (224 beds).
Two mega-projects will provide a total of 2,400 additional beds. The US$ 1.2 billion New Al Jahra Hospital (also known as Al Jahra Medical City, with 1,234 beds) officially opened in July 2018. Whether the hospital is already in full operation is unclear. The construction work for the US$ 1.1 billion Al Jaber al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah Hospital (1,168 beds) was completed in spring 2016. But it was not until December 2018 that a first phase started operations, comprising only ambulatory services.
Several new hospitals are planned
Hospital projects with a total capacity of over 8,000 beds are currently being built or planned, valued at almost US$ 10 billion. The largest projects under construction are the expansion of Al Farwaniya Hospital by 938 beds, the expansion of Al Adan Hospital by 637 beds, the construction of New Maternity Hospital (780 beds), the expansion of Al Sabah Hospital by 617 beds and the expansion of Kuwait Cancer Control Center by 618 beds.
The projects under construction will increase bed capacity to around 16,000 when completed. Medium-term government planning envisages this target figure. Investments in hospitals in the planning stages amount to a further US$ 5.6 billion. However, some planned projects presumably will not be realized or will be postponed. Whether state projects should be offered to private investors as private public partnership projects (PPP) is also under discussion.